Picture perfect: After bad weather on day one of the National Marathon Championships competitors revelled in yesterday’s ideal aquatic playground on the Coffs Coast.
Picture perfect: After bad weather on day one of the National Marathon Championships competitors revelled in yesterday’s ideal aquatic playground on the Coffs Coast. Bruce Thomas

Champion wins two titles

TRAVIS Grant wrapped up a stunning paddling double at the Australian Outrigger Canoe National Marathon Championships in Coffs Harbour at the weekend.

Just 24 hours after victory in the prestigious 25-kilometre Outrigger Canoe 1 (OC1) Iron Championship on Saturday, Grant was back on the water to claim the 10km Stand Up Paddle from Coffs Harbour to Sawtell.

On day one, Grant broke Greg Long's three-year stranglehold on the Australian title with the hard slog from Coffs Harbour north to Woolgoolga, with Todd Cohen (Mooloolaba) second and Long third.

“We had near-perfect conditions out there and some good little swells when we came around the first headland, which were a lot of fun and made it a little easier than Saturday,” he said of yesterday's event.

“I was determined to get to the lead as quickly as I could and maintain it. The only way to go is to make a jump on the field.

“I was a little stiff after Saturday's race but once you get into your rhythm you just have to maintain it. It was great to win the double, a wonderful way to complete what has been a real breakthrough year for me.”

In yesterday's OC1 women's race the experienced local masters competitor and national team paddler, Andrea Polkinghorne, turned the tables on Saturday's 25km winner, 16-year-old Coffs Harbour Jetty High School student Jessie Mills-Thom.

On Saturday emerging star Mills-Thom gave away twice her age in experience to several members of the field, only to power away from Mooloolaba's Coral Derbyshire, with Polkinghorne third across the line but officially the winner of the masters division. Sydney's Annette Happich (Pacific Dragons, NSW) took third in the open division on both days.

“I needed to get some ‘street cred' back from Jessie after she cleaned us up on Saturday,” Polkinghorne said.

“I decided to take the coastal run, while Jessie chose the middle, and I got some good runners, which kept me going.

“But I knew Jessie would be chasing me all the way and there was never much between us.

“In the end I just hung on by about five metres.”

It capped a great weekend for the Coffs Harbour paddlers, with Mills-Thom's mother and national team paddler Gail Mill-Thom winning the 25km senior masters and finishing fifth overall.

Daniel Jenkins finished second in yesterday's OC1 short course race after an impressive fifth in Saturday's 25km iron race.

Race director Mike Mills-Thom was delighted with the weekend.

“The racing was great but on Saturday in pretty tough conditions – not a great deal of assistance at all.

“Everyone had to work hard in the paddle north to Woolgoolga but Sunday had ideal conditions for the paddle south and I'm sure everyone will leave Coffs knowing they've had a great weekend.”

He thanked the business community, local volunteers, AOCRA and the Hawaiian outrigger community and corporate world for supporting the championships.



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