Thirty-seven teams and more than 250 participants took to the waters just off Gibsons last weekend for the 13th bi-annual Howe Sound Iron Outrigger races.
A solid field of international and Canadian teams competed in the short and long courses, with the San Diego women’s team from the Hano Hano Club, the Toronto women’s team from the Wai Nui Club and teams from Victoria and Calgary all among the top contenders.
This year’s event was a bit smaller than two years ago due to several other events happening internationally, but race director Donna Harrison said that certainly did not deter from the occasion.
“The main comment from all visitors is the beauty of the place we live and paddle,” Harrison said. “The event is so well supported by the locals and the Town of Gibsons. Everyone feels welcome. In Hawaiian they say you are o’hana (family).”
Harrison said the perfect weather and conditions on the water, moderate with 10 knot winds, allowed the crews to surf down the channel on the back side of Keats Island, which allowed some very close and competitive racing.
Saturday morning started with the 14km short course race, which was won by the U19 junior crew from the Penticton Racing Canoe Club in a time of 1:18:16. They were followed in a close second by the golden master 60-plus team from the Powell River Outrigger Club in a time of 1:20:36 with the senior master women 50-plus from the False Creek Racing Canoe Club in third place in a time of 1:22:15.
Up next was the women’s 26km long course, which saw the three teams finish within seconds of each other.
The women from San Diego won in a time of 2:09:52 followed by the Fairway Gorge Outrigger team from Victoria in a time of 2:10:19 and the Kelowna Outrigger Club in third in a time of 2:10:24.
The men’s long course was next and it was another close battle among the top three teams.
Fairway Gorge finished first in a time of 1:59:51 followed by the Pacific Reach Paddling Club from Vancouver in a time of 2:02:46 with the Calgary Canoe Club in third place in a time of 2:03:19.
The mixed long course was not as close, as the Penticton Racing Canoe Club was the clear class of the field, winning in a time of 2:04:59. Fairway Gorge was second in a time of 2:12:56 with Mountain Home from Oregon in third in a time of 2:16:27.
“Without the help of all the local volunteers and committee members, this event would not be what it is,” Harrison said. “A big thank you to the Gibsons Paddle Club for going above and beyond to get it done!”
© Coast Reporter