Local canoeists dominate the Ocean Rock challenge

A NROCC crew paddle through Ocean Rock on their marathon-distance Norfolk Island race.

The Northern Rivers Outrigger Canoe Club have returned with a swag of gold and silver medals from the Rock Ocean Challenge on Norfolk Island held in late January.

The Ballina/Byron club floated two six-person crews in the women’s and men’s master events.

The women’s team won gold for the 26-kilometre marathon, gold for the 12 km middle distance and silver for the sprint race, while the men’s crew came home with triple silver medals.

The highlight of the racing week was navigating the Hole in the Rock that was halfway round the 26km Norfolk Island circumnavigation.

‘One minute we were paddling in monsoonal rain and could barely see 100 metres ahead and the next the rock loomed ominously before us. Then the ocean swell surged us towards the entrance,’ club coach and vice-president Lindy O’Brien said.

‘It was a wild ride through the archway – like being in a giant washing machine with the rear wave surge and the rebound off the walls. We all let out a big “woohoo” going through, enjoying the thrill of it, knowing we were in safe hands with head coach and veteran steerer Denise Cooper at the helm. What we are really proud of is the fact that two members of our women’s crew were novice paddlers, one of whom did the 26km race as her first ever event! It’s events like these that really get us excited and we are already gearing up for the next big event, the Sydney Harbour Challenge in February.

‘We have recently welcomed many new paddlers to our club and wish to share our love of paddling with all who love the water like we do,’ Lindy said.

For more information or look up Northern Rivers Outrigger Canoe Club on Facebook.

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