Boomerangs paddling out for world title tune up
AN Australian junior paddling star and his side will hit the waters of Kingscliff today to prepare for their world title assault.
Tweed Coast's Willis Keogh and his Australian under-19 teammates will test themselves in the Kingscliff Kahu Challenge today in their first competitive hit out after being put through a tough team selection criteria.
Keogh said the side, who head to Tahiti in June for the Va'a Worth Marathon Titles, would use the challenge to fine-tune their world title preparations.
It's the first time we're rolling out as the Boomerang squad," Keogh said.
"We're doing the races as the Boomerangs and we'll be doing long-course and short-course races to work out the best crew seatings ahead of Tahiti."
Keogh was selected to represent Australia after finishing fourth over 26km at last year's national marathon titles in Townsville at under-21 level.
Joining Keogh and the Australian side in the Kahu challenge will be 75 crews, ranging from under-8s to masters' crews over 70.
The Tweed Coast Outriggers' hosted event is the first south Queensland zone regatta for 2017 and kicks off the outrigger canoe (OC6) series.
Tweed Coast Outriggers' president Ken McAllum said more than 450 competitors from across 20 clubs from Fraser Coast to Coffs Harbour would race short-course (8km) and long-course (16km) circuits.
"There'll be novice and elite paddlers that have been paddling for 10 years," McAllum said.
McAllum said elite crews would use the event as a platform for the Sydney Harbour Challenge in February, where opens and masters' crews will be selected to join Keogh's Australian under-19 side in Tahiti.
The Kahu Challenge got underway at 6.30am and takes in the marine reserve, the giants causeway and long course competitors will paddle around Cook Island.