Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club ready to host and race in Shoal Bay regatta

Shoal Bay's waters will be filled with paddlers at the end of the month when Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club hosts its popular annual regatta.

Despite the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association's NSW state titles, which have been hosted in Port Stephens for the past three years, moving to Sydney for 2019, the Bay-based club is anticipating a strong contingent of paddlers attending its March 30-31 regatta.

"We've been hosting this regatta for over 20 years," Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club president and race director, Tony Compton, said.

"We've hosted the state titles for the last three years. It moves around. This year it's in Pittwater. This will be our normal regatta but we're still expecting a big turn out."

Compton said Shoal Bay has a reputation for being the "perfect waters" for such an event.

In addition to being visually appealing, the Bay is ideal for paddlers of all experience levels.

For those who do not like to head out into open water, they can explore the inside of the Bay while those who do like to experience something more challenging can paddle out to the islands.

The club can also create a variety of courses for paddlers using the Bay's natural elements and size.

"People like to come and spend a weekend in Port Stephens," Compton said. "This regatta is a good source of income for us. Being not-for-profit, we rely on a healthy turn out and our sponsors."

The regatta is believed to be one of the largest staged in NSW.

Racing will be staged out of Shoal Bay all day on March 30 and half a day on March 31. Both days will begin with a race briefing at 7.45am.

Novice, junior, ultra short course (4 kilometres) races will begin the regatta followed by the men's, women's and mixed short course (11km), women's and mixed long course (16.5km) and men's long course (18km).

Ultra-short course and juniors in the OC1, OC2 and V1's will kick off racing on Sunday followed by the short and long courses.

The Port Stephens club has entered a record five crews in the OC6 ultra short course plus a ladies and mixed crew each in the short course and one mixed team in the long course.

"We've done well in the past," Compton said.

"There's some really good competition coming this year but hopefully we'll see a return to the podium."

In addition to the regatta racing, the club will welcome champion paddler Vesna Radonich from New Zealand to the Port for the weekend.

Radonich, a world champion paddler, will host a presentation at Shoal Bay Country Club on the Friday night and clinics throughout the weekend.

Compton said it was a "real coup" for the club to have Radonich presenting and running clinics for single and OC6 paddlers.

Regatta information will be posted on the Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club Facebook page.

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