VRC returns with the Thunder from Down Under

VRC Women return form the Sydney Harbour Challenge held on February 24th, with a 4th place in the Women’s Open, and 13th place overall among the all women categories. This successful result was the outcome of intensified training over winter, the dedication and support of the entire paddle team, and the addition of Alex De Miranda as the Women’s Coach to the coaching team that is led by Scott Dale, Head Coach.

The Race was set as a target race by the 2016 Womens Captain Julia Washbourne, who wanted to continue the momentum of the progress made last year.

Sydney Harbour Challenge, presented by Hawaiian Airlines, is 22 kilometres which starts in Manly Beach, Australia, heads toward the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge for a hairpin turn, then back pass Sydney Opera House, and back to Manly Beach. There were 58 canoes on the beach, the majority of them transported by trailer from clubs throughout Australia. The increase in canoes over the years shows the race has become increasingly popular since it started 5 years ago. Race day brought delays, fog, rain and wind, even though this time of year is the end of the Australian summer. However, the VRC crew trained throughout the Hong Kong winter, so the race day weather worked to their advantage in dealing with choppy waters and larger waves. Hong Kong winter training created less than ideal conditions, and that ended up being the best training ground. Sydney Race crew included Tatjana Baehr, Barbara Morel, Julia Washbourne, Lina Zapata, Noelle Gahan, and Jennie Chao. VRC congratulates their fellow Hong Kong teams at the race which included Lamma’s mixed crews and a HKOCC womens crew. VRC also thanks Pacific Dragons Outrigger for loaning us their beautiful Kamanu for the race.

While in Sydney, our paddlers connected with our legacy HKIPC founder, Des Mabbott, who continues to paddle with Noosa Outrigger. Des gave our crew some tips, wished the VRC all the best for 2017 and hopes to visit for a paddle with the VRC team again when him and his wife Wendy visit.

On Sunday Feb 26, a few VRC paddlers entered the 11 kilometres Bridge to Beach race that started from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and ended in Manly Beach. VRC teammate Tatjana Beahr and Julia Washbourne raced in surf ski, while Jennie Chao raced in OC1. There were over 380 paddlers in the field that took off just after sunrise and headed into fairly large waves. The Hong Kong teams were proud to see Gina Miller from Lamma took 3rd place in the ladies surf ski division!

Although only one OC6 crew was sent, winter training with Coach Alex also paid off for many who are experienced or ending their rookie year. Joining in on most of the difficult trainings was Maia Marin, Edith Terry, Julie Devine and Doan Weber. Some of experienced team members helped provide additional training and boat rigging review – thanks Jen and Mark Pollard, Julie, Lee Wong and Lee Mussi.

The team looks forward with more to come in the Dragon Boat season and for Outrigger in 2017. Womens Captain Noelle Gahan will be leading the ladies through a busy year!