Wetland Wander Race Report by Sue Gollagher

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Carnage Corner at Wetland Wander 2015

Wetland Wander 2015

Sandgate locals all know that when we get a SSE wind the mouth of Cabbage Tree Creek chops up like a washing machine. When the Friday forecast said 10-20 knot SSE for race day Sunday, we watched the tree tops, the QCYC flags, and the white caps in Moreton Bay anxiously. At Saturday morning training, the front was too bouncy for the K1s and we had to move to Chickens Landing up Cabbage Tree Creek. So, we made the decision to move the race start to the shelter of the creek.

Of course, the Wind Gods decided to mess with our minds, and the moderate breeze was nowhere to be seen on Sunday morning when we were setting up at 6am. By race start at 9.30, it had picked up, and by 11.00, it was gusting 15+ knots. So glad I wasn’t out there.

157 competitors in 143 craft (plus 17 SUPs) hit the water setting off in 7 waves. This race was unusual in that 200m after the start competitors had to do a sharp right turn up Nundah Creek. The normal turning buoy on Nundah Creek was a little further up where the creek is a little narrower, so paddlers had all the fun, games and biffo of getting around in a crowd. Shaun Switch of Varsity was especially proud of his 15 point turn, and James Pitman of Brisbane reports seeing a couple of paddlers trapped on the buoy by the current. This stretch of the creek will now be known as Carnage Corner. On finishing the race, paddlers had a sharp left turn before a 200m sprint to the finish (enjoying the swell coming in from Moreton Bay). Don’t say we run a boring race.

Being stuck all morning at VMR, I can’t report much on the race itself, but I can see from the results that some hard, close and exciting races occurred. A matter of seconds separated Jim and Ken from Bonville Creek after 18km

 

With all the fun of wind gusts, a fast flowing outgoing tide, and 160 craft charging up and down the creek at race pace, we had a small handful of capsizes. Our safety craft, including a VMR vessel, Greg and Curly in the QC tinny, Barry and Tim in sea kayak and ski, and a number of BrisSUP volunteers did an excellent job.

I think all clubs should think seriously about using SUPs as safety craft. The volunteers stand, so they have a clear view all around them. They can move through the race course without creating a wash—how many races have you been to where the safety boat would have been better named as the danger boat? Also, they are very stable, so a fatigued, capsized paddler can climb on board for a rest.

I want to thank all our volunteers. I especially want to thank Linda Parsons who managed a team of SCC helpers who kept all the hungry paddlers energised with sausages, steak sandwiches, vege burgers, cakes, and drinks. I also want to give a special mention to my sister and brother-in-law who don’t paddle but who come along year after year and slave over the laptop doing the times. It’s a stressful job and they don’t have to do it, but they do. We also had several members’ spouses getting hot and sweaty at the BBQ and a handful of kids running times up the bank and selling biscuits and cakes. Several new members came along and got involved this year as well, including Michelle who took the marvellous photos on Flickr. We have far too many helpers for me to name in person and I wish I could give every one of them a Volunteer of the Day prize instead of just picking 5 names out of a hat.

20 different AC clubs were represented at this year’s Wetland Wander plus members of a handful of other non-AC aligned groups such as SUP, outrigger, and dragon boat clubs. We had paddlers from Wagga and a happy bunch of kids from a Gold Coast school. Altogether the variety of paddlers was very pleasing and I hope it means that the rest of the races in 2015 and the future will also attract healthy numbers.

See you all at Grafton.