Blazing paddles

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

THE elite level outrigger action that is so often on show in Coffs Harbour is about to be brought closer to the shore.

This weekend's Coffs Coast Cup has had the courses designed specifically with spectators in mind.

While the action within the Jetty has always created spectacular viewing, once the canoes find their way past the harbour entrance and Muttonbird Island, it's hard to see the competitors working up a hard-earned sweat.

Not this weekend.

Vice President of the Coffs Coast Outrigger Canoe Club Mark Lynch says that there will be plenty of great vantage spots for spectators to grab a glimpse of the event.

"On Saturday there's going to be a number of 15-kilometre races which see the teams paddle out to Korora and back, and the course has been set fairly close to the beach where people can see them," he said.

"The highlight will be on Sunday morning with the race around the headland which keeps close to the wall and people at Park Beach will get a close look as all the teams do a full changeover between the beach and Little Muttonbird Island.

"We're hoping there will be about 30 boats in each of those three races."

Now into its ninth year, the Coffs Coast Cup is an event that continues to get bigger.

And Lynch was quick to point out how much an outrigger event in Coffs Harbour means to the local community.

"This weekend we're expecting over 400 paddlers from all around Australia," he said.

"That means there will be over one thousand people coming to town for the two days of racing which brings over $200,000 into the town.

"It's quite a nice little earner."

Asked why outriggers swarm from all over to the Coffs Harbour events, Lynch was very matter of fact about the advantages Coffs holds.

"The courses that we set are very testing and we've got a great stretch of water to paddle in which makes it enjoyable for the competitors."



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