Hawaii inspires birth of Noosa outrigger club
IN 1985, Evan Gartrell, foundation and life member of the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club, was working on Hamilton Island when he first saw and heard of the sport of outrigging.
That same year he began paddling with the Hamilton Island Opens Men's Team, where they would compete in the inter-island races in the Whitsundays, and in the same year he visited Molokai, Hawaii, to participate in paddling events at the birthplace of outrigging.
In 1987 he moved to Noosa where in 1981 he met Zandra Brown (ne D'Aboitze) from Hawaii at the Frenzy ice cream van at Main Beach. Evan was wearing his Molokai T-shirt, which instigated a conversation regarding their experiences in outrigging, resulting in both agreeing that it would be wonderful to have an outrigger club in Noosa.
Evan contacted his old team captain from Hamilton Island and managed to borrow a "Malia” canoe from him for three months, and the Mooloolaba Club kindly lent them a trailer to move the canoe around. The founding paddlers were all close friends or relatives of Zandra and Evan.
Initially the team trained in mixed men's and women's teams, and borrowed canoes to enable them to compete in local events. But soon after starting up they had enough paddlers to form both open men's and open women's teams for competition.
The first Point to Point race, a 42 km changeover race from Mooloolaba to Noosa, was about to be held and the Hamilton Island Club was coming down to compete.
They had a second-hand canoe for sale for $4000, which was purchased by Evan on behalf of the club, who then arranged to reimburse him from fundraising efforts. One of the paddlers at the time was Lisa Doherty whose parents owned the Noosa North Shore Beachfront Wilderness Camp. They generously offered to purchase the canoe to help get the club going, and so the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club had its first canoe! Canoe covers were "exchanged” for a carton of FourX from the Hamilton Island Club.
The Noosa Club continued to grow and the following year Sunshine Coast developer Mal Pratt, having an interest in seeing the sport and club develop, suggested they approach Bill Freeman, the principle of Noosa Outlook, for sponsorship. An agreement was reached over the phone for them to contribute $5000 towards a new canoe and the club was to raise the remaining $1900 required to make the purchase possible.
Noosa Outlook continued their generous support for another two years, donating a total of $15,000 to the club, enabling it to purchase three new canoes over that time.
Over the years the club grew to have representation in all divisions at regattas and to achieve some great results in racing OC6 and OC1 canoe events.
Today the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club currently has 180 members and continues to compete competitively in most age groups of OC6, OC2 & OC1 events.
Supporting the competitive members, the club has a strong Recreational membership who enjoy two or three days paddling every week, keeping up basic fitness and great camaraderie.
Competitive training is conducted in the ocean environs of Laguna Bay and Sunshine Coast Bays, but when the weather prevents exit via the bar, the club takes advantage of the waterways within the Noosa River and Lake regions. Recreational/Social paddling is always conducted in the safety of the Noosa River and canal systems.
The club is based at Chaplin Park, accessed off Mill St off Gympie Tce, Noosaville.