Paddlers set Downwind Ocean Classic

Mitchell WoodcockSouth Western Times

The coast of Bunbury will be filled with some of the State’s best surf club paddlers for this weekend’s Downwind Ocean Classic Paddle.

Hosted by the City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club, about 80 competitors are expected to compete in round five of the series on Saturday.

Competitors will race from Minninup Beach in Stratham to the club’s base at Back Beach – a 15km paddle.

The Bunbury club is expected to field more than 20 competitors for the big race and coach James Duncan believes some of his talented paddlers have the chance to cause an upset.

“This is something we train for,” he said.

“It is a good base for our surf paddling.

“There are a few young guys from the club who are doing quite well.

“Perth is renowned for its downwind paddling, so we have three to four guys coming down who are in the top 10 in the world.”

Duncan said it would be the biggest event at the club this year.

“The forecast is good, with good winds,” he said.

“Hopefully we get a lot of Perth competitors come down.”

Duncan said his team trained seven times a week on the same course as Saturday’s event.

“We do two to three downwind paddles a week to prepare for these races specifically,” he said.

Duncan said times would depend on wind conditions, but the best would make the trip within an hour.

Some of the Bunbury competitors looking to make an impact include Joel Drummond, Courtney Smaniotto and Tom Scott.

They will have to compete against the likes of experienced paddler Reece Baker, 2015 Avon Descent kayak winner Brendan Rice and endurance ironman David Graham, who will both be coming down for the big race.

“It will be a good challenge for our guys,” Duncan said.

The paddlers will leave Minninup Beach at 2.30pm, with the first paddler likely to finish about 3.20pm at the City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club.

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