We’re almost halfway through December, and many East Coast paddlers are well into their offseason. This time is great to reflect on the memories made throughout the year, experiences had, past races, and races to look forward to for next year.
A Growing Year
2016 was a very experimental, but exciting year for outrigger paddlers. A large amount of growth occurred and many race organizers put together OC1/OC2/OC6 divisions for the very first time. Even though some races didn’t have an outrigger division, people still came out and gave their all in their canoes.
The Cold Stroke Classic had a “run what you brung” division which brought 6 OC1s on to the course. These paddlers battled it out around Harbor Island, in the freezing cold, just for fun and some good ole’ bragging rights. See the recap of 2016’s race here.
This gave some of us an idea of what to expect for the coming season: Increasing numbers.
The Shark Bite Challenge, one of the east coast’s largest outrigger events, had 49 outriggers (OC1s/OC2s) registered for their 8 mile race, and 16 outriggers registered for their 4 mile race. The 2016 event was cancelled due to conditions, but there were 17 more canoes in the 8 mile, and 14 more canoes in the 2 mile race than the year prior.
The Carolina Cup then had 11 OC1s and 4 OC2s on the Graveyard course in 2016, a big increase compared to the 2 OC1s and 1 OC2 that competed in the 2015 race. Also, the Carolina Cup hosted its first OC6 race that went on the day after Saturday’s races. Average joes plus guys like Larry Cain and Danny Ching raced against each other in the 6man canoes around the infamous Harbor Island.
The Clearwater Classic, another big OC1/OC2 race saw about 36 canoes in total in 2016, as well as some OC6s.
I can’t forget to mention the large outrigger presence at the Chattajack31 race this year. 15 OC1s (10 men and 5 women) and 12 OC2s (4 all male, 4 all female, and 4 mixed) took on the 31(2) mile challenge this year. The races FIRST OC6 also took part this year, totally opening the door to a new division for the race.
What does this all mean? Simply, it means that there is a lot of growth and excitement within the East Coast outrigger community. Word has it that OC1’s will have a cash prize this year at the Carolina Cup, and that numbers are expected to increase, if not double for 2017. The Cold Stroke Classic will have an official OC1/OC2 division set for this year, and OC6 teams are already planning to do the Chattajack31 race in October. I’ve also heard from many friends and paddlers that they will make the trek to Florida for the Shark Bite Challenge, further increasing its numbers.
So what 2017 races should OC paddlers look forward to in the coming year?
ECORA (East Coast Outrigger Racing Association) has yet to release it’s 2017 schedule, but it will continue to host its OC6 and OC1 races this year. Those are definitely ones to look forward to if you are in a canoe club or want to race against your friends in OC1s.
I know I am definitely looking forward to the big hitters such as the Shark Bite Challenge, Carolina Cup, the Clearwater Classic, and if you’re into long endurance events, which I am, Chattajack. Numbers of paddlers are expected to further increase, which means more competition, more growth, and more fun. The 2017 season is definitely going to be one that continues to push the sport of outrigger paddling on the East Coast.
I hope to see you all this upcoming season as many exciting things are happening!