Members of Latitude 48 Paddling Club train in outrigger canoes along the waters of the Inner Harbour during Sunday morning practice, March 18. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Latitude 48 Paddling Club races through Victoria waters

Local team clinched victory in Nanaimo to kick off season that will see them compete in Hawaii

It’s just after 8 a.m. on a chilly Sunday morning in late March and the dock at the foot of Herald Street, just to the north of the Johnson Street Bridge, is buzzing with a few dozen paddlers eager to get out on the water.

Some, like Bob Randall, have been at this for years, and others are new to the sport, having just joined Victoria’s Latitude 48 Paddling Club. Coached by Melanie Conard and James Hill – two founders of the club – paddlers from 19 to 70 years of age launch four outrigger canoes into the waters of the Inner Harbour, with little more than a splash.

“This morning we’re heading out for our regular Sunday practice,” Conard says. “It’s gonna be about 12-14 kilometres long, which is a medium length practice.”

Randall chuckles: “Can we just emphasize it is the morning after St. Paddy’s Day? We’re very dedicated.”

Although the club started five years ago, it has seen some changes. This year’s crew has been paddling together for just over a year – long enough to clinch victories in three different races last weekend at the Crazy 8 Outrigger Canoe Race in Nanaimo.

“We’re in really good shape,” says Hill, who along with Conard is often found in one of the 6-seat boats the 40-person team practices and competes in.

The season is just kicking off, with races nearly every weekend through to late summer. This year, the goal is the Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race, the largest in the world held the last weekend of August in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

“It’s pretty busy, it’s a big commitment,” Hill says of being a part of Latitude 48. “[But] it’s a sense of joy. You’re out there, you’re in your boat, you’re commuting with water, you’re taking part in all Mother Nature has to offer. The sky is blue, the sun is shining [and] the water is underneath you.”

The world of outrigger canoe is changing a lot right now, says Conard. Boats used to tip the scales at 400 lbs. but production has shifted to making carbon fibre “unlimited boats” that weigh in at just 170 lbs. that glide across the water much faster.

The Latitude 48 team is full of experience with members who come from a varied background of traditional canoeing styles. Marathon, voyager, First Nations canoeing, stand-up paddlers, dragon boaters, they’re all represented here, Randall says.

“It all kind of blends in to some degree to just being on the water, and being on the team,” he adds.

The team is competitive, but open to all paddlers.

“If you’re willing to commit and you want to do the training, and you want to get fast and you want to race,” says Conard, who refers to her fellow paddlers as “ohana” the Hawaiian word for family.

“For me it’s that place that you go that at the end of the day it feels great to be with these people,” she says.

To learn more about Latitude 48 Paddling Club, check them out online or on social media. The team will compete next in Vancouver at the False Creek Racing Canoe Club March Madness event, March 24-25.

Listen to James Hill describe outrigger canoeing here:

– With files from Arnold Lim

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

 

Members of Latitude 48 Paddling Club train in outrigger canoes along the waters of the Inner Harbour during Sunday morning practice, March 18. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Paddlers from Latitude 48 hit the waters of Victoria’s Inner Harbour for morning practice, March 18. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Paddlers from Latitude 48 ready themselves to leave the Inner Harbour for open water during morning practice, March 18. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Just Posted

Timelapse shows Blue Morpho chrysalis morphing at Butterfly Gardens

One of many speices of butterlflies at the Buterfly Garden

Greater Victoria workforce gets older but also more diverse

By 2036, Greater Victoria will have roughly two workers for every person 65 years and older

Free blood type tattoo with donation draws crowds in Finland

One in two people is eligible and able to donate blood, but only one in 60 people actually do

Greater Victoria enjoys sunny first day of spring

Summer-like temperatures of 21 degrees hit Wednesday for first day of spring

Saanich forwards student-targeted development to public hearing

Proposed development advertises itself to individuals who want a car-free lifestyle

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

Most Read