Coffs crew goes for gold against outrigger stars
By MITCHELL DALE
FED UP with playing second fiddle to the 'oar-some' Mooloolaba master women's outrigger crew, Coffs Harbour paddlers have cranked up their training program this year in a bid to become national champions.
Now the girls are ready to reap the rewards of their hard work at this weekend's Coffs Coast Cup.
Coffs Harbour claimed the Master Women's Cup last year, admittedly over a weakened Mooloolaba outfit.
The star-studded Mooloolaba outfit are the long-time national champions, with Coffs Harbour usually having to settle for silver.
But the Coffs girls ? captain Karen Clarke, Gail Mills-Thom, Shona Walker, Kellie Reinhold, Kim Fuller and Andrea Polkinghorne ? are ready to change that after a rigorous off-season.
"We are very confident, we are racing well and have done lots of training," Polkinghorne said.
"We have spent more time in the gym and worked harder than ever this year.
"We went well last year as a club and a crew, but we wanted to step up this year."
Polkinghorne says her crew is motivated by trying to rip the national crown away from the Lisa Curry-Kenny led Mooloolaba outfit.
"They are our biggest rivals, we battled against them all last season," she said.
"We want to overtake them and become the outright (national) champions this year.
"We have raced once this year and finished second to Mooloolaba but we could see we had bridged the gap. The hard work is starting to pay off."
Polkinghorne said today's race, which starts at 8.30am, is an important step on the way to claiming the national title.
"Winning here would be a good psychological blow, even though they will not be at full strength," she said.
"If we win it will boost our confidence and knock their's."
This year's crew has two changes to the one which claimed the Coffs Coast Cup last year, with Clarke and Fuller replacing Wendy Moore and Robyn Elks, who have moved up to the senior master crew.
"Having Robyn and Wendy in the (senior master) crew will certainly bolster their chances and they also have a good chance of winning."