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

Bike dragged several blocks after hit and run

Wheel-less bike dragged underneath van along Dallas Rd. after cyclist hit

WATCH: Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis

Someone asked her if she does the work for her son. McBain said: “No, actually. I do it for your son.”

Millstream Road closed to traffic at Bear Mountain Parkway

Downed hydro pole blocking both lanes at Industrial Way

Skydiver lands safely after cutting away main chute

Central Saanich emergency services called after witnesses saw spiralling chute

Man arrested at gunpoint outside Vic High

Police were called after he allegedly threatened a teacher with a knife

VIDEO: B.C. ‘escapologist’ stuns judges on Britain’s Got Talent

Matt Johnson says televised water stunt was closest he’s come to death

NAFTA talks hold Foreign Affairs Minister in Washington, substitute heads to NATO summit

NAFTA talks keeping Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, sends substitute to NATO summit

Britain gives long-lost Franklin expedition ships to Canada, Inuit

Deeds to HMS Erebus and HMS Terror signed over to Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust

Grief over deadly Toronto van attack sinks in

Three days after rampage, people still gathering at memorial to lay flowers and honour victims

Liberals urged to tax e-commerce services like Netflix

Trudeau has been adamant that his government wouldn’t increase taxes on online subscriptions

Why some B.C. daycares didn’t opt in to subsidy program

Deadline passes for program aimed at laying foundation for universal child care

Charges follow collisions between pickup and police vehicles in Nanaimo

Majore Jackson, 32, and Andrew John Bellwood, 47, from Nanaimo, face numerous charges

Been a long day? Here’s cute puppies in training

Group is training next batch of assistance dogs at Vancouver International Airport

Most Read