Farewell Aussie Surf Titles...hello world's fastest outrigger canoe paddlers!
The Sunshine Coast's record year of major and regional events rolls on in earnest next week when Lake Kawana plays host to the International Va'a Federation World Elite & Club Sprint Championships.
The council-supported event will run from May 5-15 and involve around 2,500 competitors from 24 different countries. Tourism, Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O'Pray said it was only the second time the World Championships had been held in Australia.
"This is the absolute pinnacle event of the world's outrigger canoe racing calendar and it's an incredible honour for our region to host an event that's making only its second appearance in Australia. It reinforces our reputation as Australia's regional capital for major events," Cr O'Pray said.
"Many competitors, supporters and visitors will be staying in our region for up to four weeks around this event that will generate an estimated $14million for our local economy.
"The World is coming to the Sunshine Coast in 2016 and this is one of 60 major and regional events we're hosting this year. This unprecedented schedule of sporting and lifestyle events will attract more than 150,000 international guests from 40 different countries to our region and generate about $100million in economic activity."
The World Outrigger Sprint Titles come hot on the heels of the highly successful Australian Surf Lifesaving Titles that delivered an estimated $20million in economic benefit.
Best Western Plus Oceanside Kawana General Manager John Orning said next week's Outrigger World Championships would provide another welcome business boost.
"We've seen a nice bump in accommodation bookings at Best Western Kawana as a result of next week's big event," he said.
"We opened our doors in November last year so having major events like this come to our region and welcoming guests from other parts of Australia and overseas is great for getting our business recognised on the Sunshine Coast as well as nationally and internationally."
Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA) President Mark Forbes said the Sunshine Coast would also be hosting Australian Marathon Outrigger Titles on the weekend following the World Sprint Championships.
"This will give many of the world's paddling community a great reason to prolong their stay on the Sunshine Coast and we're working closely with our partners to leverage all possible tourism opportunities these events will present," he said.
Hosting the World Sprint Championships will carry special significance for local outrigger competitor Heather Atkinson. The 69-year old Treasurer of the Mooloolaba Outrigger Canoe Club Committee has battled breast cancer over the past 12 twelve months in her bid to represent Australia in solo and crew events at the World Championships.
"I was diagnosed in June last year and have undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy so it has been tough going through all that and keeping up training four times a week to prepare for this," she said.
"The love I have for this sport and the wonderful support from my local teammates and family has helped me battle through and I'm so excited to line up in a World Championships here on the Sunshine Coast. I can't wait!"
Heather will represent Australia in the Golden Masters Division at the Va'a World Sprint Titles on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. She will race solo in the Platinum division; 70 years plus.
A spectacular opening ceremony for the International Va'a Federation World Elite & Club Sprint Championships will held at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday May 7 from 3pm. For more information about the event, visit: http://vaaworldsprints.com/