Monday, February 9, 2009

Stand Up and be Counted

The 2009 Global Surf Industries Noosa Festival of Surfing will open with a 5 Km Stand Up Paddle Board Race from Loins Park to First Point. The Course, which includes the still waters of the Noosa River, a crossing of the Noosa Bar and a Triangular Course around Laguna Bay, will showcase a traditional Hawaiian water sport that has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity in the past few years as a fitness activity.

The First-light Stand up Paddle Race will be held from 3pm on March 15, immediately before the festival's official Hawaiian opening ceremony and blessing of the waters.  Festival Director Phil Jarratt said he expected to be flooded with entries, after forms were posted on the festival website on the weekend.

"With $1000 cash and prizes on the line over three divisions, some paddlers are going to be taking this very seriously, " he said.  "BUt our main goal is to have a fun event and a great spectacle to launch the festival. Sunday 15 is designated 'water-man's day' and we'll be having some amazing exhibition and celebrity events leading into the First-light SUPS."

The Noosa Festival introduced an ocean paddle race last year, but Jarratt said the focus had been changed this year to make it more of a family event.

"Over this short but challenging course we're going to see a lot of mums, dads, kids and whole family groups having a go, and that's what our festival is really all about," he said.  Noosaville Surfboard shop owner and Stand Up Paddler Chris McCutchson will be one of those taking the race seriously and he has no doubt who will be the paddler to beat.  Despite international entries still to be confirmed he believers the surfer setting the pace will be Local Eugene "Woogie" Marsh who has been at the forefront of the sport's introduction here. McCutchson said Marsh, who is a four time World Outrigger Champion, was a powerful paddler who had excelled in long distance events since crossing over to the new discipline. "He's the power broker of paddling at the moment," McCutchson said.

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