Pasha Dasha Grand Prix returns to Newcastle harbour, Nobbys breakwall on January 12

Newcastle’s harbour will be awash with outrigger canoe paddlers on Saturday when the Pasha Dasha Grand Prix returns.

Fifty-four teams from 18 clubs across NSW, Queensland and the ACT are due to take part in the seventh instalment of the Pasha Dasha, which is hosted by Newcastle Outrigger Canoe Club and City of Newcastle council.

Race director Stephen Dawes said the unique crew changes race format and the ability for spectators to watch from close vantage points along Nobbys breakwall and the harbour foreshore were what made the Pasha Dasha so popular with competitors and spectators. 

“Outrigger canoe racing is one of Australia’s fastest growing water sports and a big plus for this event is that the public can see close-up all the action that usually happens out at sea,” he said.

“Our course includes both flat water and open ocean racing, starting inside the harbour near Horseshoe Beach and running out along the inside of the southern breakwall before heading out into the open ocean off Nobbys Beach.

“The crew changes format in our 27km long course race is also unique. Instead of the usual six person crew, each team has a crew of nine people, with crew member swap-outs permitted on Horseshoe Beach after each 5.4km lap.

“So the 27km race is effectively broken up into five separate races of 5.4km with crew members swapped after each lap before a general restart.

“Our format benefits paddlers not confident of doing crew changes in open water, allowing them to build better experience in a competitive situation and it also provides paddlers with extra race start practice which includes the thrill of close racing.” 

The Pasha Dasha Grand Prix is the state’s largest interclub outrigger canoe racing regatta. It is made up with a short and a long course race ranging from 4.5km to 27km in distance.

Teams from as far as Ulladulla and Port Macquarie are due to attend Saturday’s regatta.

There will be at least 14 crews from Newcastle, Port Stephens and other coastal Hunter communities also taking part.

All the action on Saturday will be focused around Horseshoe Beach.

A welcome to country will kick off the event at 7am before the first races, the OC1 (one person) and OC2 (two person) crew 4.5km and 9km, begin at 7.30am.

At 9.30am junior, novice and ultra short course OC6 (six person) crews will begin their respective 4.5km races.

At 10.30am all divisions (women, mixed, men) will begin the OC6 short course 10km races.

The day’s racing will culminate about 12.30pm with the start of all OC6 divisions of the long course 27km races.

These races are expected to take about three hours to complete.