Gulf Beach attracts outrigger canoe racers

The Northeast’s outrigger canoeing community descended on Milford’s Gulf Beach on Saturday, Aug. 25, to take part in the regional six-person outrigger canoe race series.

The Milford Paddling Club hosted the heat as part of the ECORA Point Series and attracted competitive outrigger paddlers from as far away as New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The event attracted more than 72 competitors who entered one or both triangular races comprising an 11-mile course and an eight-mile course, with a crew switch at the halfway point, that took competitors far beyond Charles Island into Long Island Sound.

The colorful start proved to be great fun for spectators viewing from Gulf Beach, and the near perfect temperatures, calm seas and fair winds made it great fun for the six-person outrigger teams, club members said.

Milford Paddling Club President Tom Reed and former president and race organizer Ted Taylor, both Milford residents and keen paddlers in their spare time, worked together on the event.

“It was a pleasure to host this event and welcome the best of the northeast’s paddling community to the beauty of Milford’s beaches and offer them the chance to paddle in the Sound,” said Reed. “We had a great turnout and highly competitive races. Spectators got a great view of the start and were able to watch the competitors from afar as they paddled around the triangular course. Congratulations to the winners of the numerous categories and also to everyone that took part and demonstrated that they have the fitness and stamina for what is an under-rated endurance sport.”

Taylor said, “It was hard but fun racing and attracted a great crowd of like minded people – fit, competitive and most importantly, fun to be with. Hosting the OC6 race, and the earlier race in July for one- and two-man outriggers, is worth the work that goes into it because it raises awareness of Milford’s and Connecticut’s only Outrigger Club throughout the region. It is also a nice little boost for Milford as everyone stays over and socializes before and after the race, and seeing people having fun in a team sport on the water piques the interest of potential new members. Crewing an outrigger canoe is a great and inexpensive way to get fit while enjoying the Milford coastline.”

Milford Paddling Club welcomes new members and holds special training events to teach paddling technique and marine safety so that when paddlers are ready they can go solo and search for the perfect wave. The club paddles into the fall for as long as the weather allows.

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