DETAILS REVEALED FOR 2023 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN AUSTRALIA
Almost two months after it was announced by the International Canoe Federation, Paddle Australia can now celebrate being awarded the 2023 World Championships.
And for Paddle Australia, it was worth the wait.
“I think it’s really significant,” CEO Phil Jones says.
“It’s often difficult with international organisations to get them to think outside Europe and we were concerned that having New Zealand one year and us the next might be a bit of a challenge for people.
“For all sorts of reasons I think it’s a real benefit and a recognition of what Australian ocean ski paddling has achieved.”
What we didn’t know, however, was the timeframe.
Like the 2022 World Championships that will be held in Auckland, the 2023 event will run in November.
Specific dates are yet to be decided as organisers want to work with the Australian Ocean Racing Series to best fit into the calendar.
The Doctor, its showpiece event, has traditionally ran on the last weekend of November, while the creation of the Shaw and Partners Race Week means there’s potential to create a festival of paddling in Western Australia.
“The key issue is to make this a tour for people to do The Doctor and other events in Western Australia,” Jones explains. “That is absolutely our intention.”
“Certainly we would see ourselves working in to optimise that and having that flow-through is going to be really important.
“The World Championships would be at the beginning or end of that window, probably more likely the end of that tour.
“We certainly want to make sure we minimise travel as much as we can.”
Paddle Australia will work with the local surfski community to decide on a course and distance, but has already indicated it’s likely to fall in line with the one and a half hour mark that is already being used by The Doctor and 20 Beaches that time of year.
A luxury for organisers is that Mandurah has also been awarded the Australian Championships a year earlier in 2022, which will be treated as a “test event”, hoping to run on the same course at the same time of year.
Given how tight the established racing calendar is each November, that will be difficult to pull off – particularly with the Auckland World Championships running during the same window too.
It also creates a new event for athletes in the busiest time of year, which for the majority, will be held on the other side of the country.
After this year holding the inaugural national titles in collaboration with the Makai Cup, Paddle Australia says it’s not necessarily pursuing a permanent path of independence.
“I think that worked really well this year,” Jones says.
“With an established event, you benefit from the experience of local organisers.
“Had we ran a stand-alone event this year, we wouldn’t have been able to race [due to the extreme weather conditions.]
“Our preference in the short term is to support the established events where we can.”
That Australian Championships, combined with hosting the 2023 World Championships, signals a shift in direction from Paddle Australia within the surfski realm.
Since the ICF entered the sport in 2013, the Australian body has largely in silence.
But like other national federations across the globe, it’s now beginning to act on the discipline’s popularity.
“It’s always a difficult issue for established organisations when you’ve got a sport like ocean paddling that has grown up in a way that is more ‘free spirited’ than other disciplines – and you don’t want to lose that,” Jones explains.
“Paddle Australia doesn’t want to take over or anything like that and some of the relationships at the moment are really positive.
“But I think having that next step out there, that goal for people, is really important.
“To paddle in a world championships is the ultimate challenge for a lot of people.
“We’ve got a good run in to maximise this opportunity.”