An overview of the sport of Outrigger Canoe Racing

Outrigger canoe racing is a competitive sport that, due to the climate here in South-east Queensland, can be enjoyed nearly all year-round. The coming competition season for our OC6 (6-man outrigger) runs from about October thru to the following June, culminating with the OC6 Marathon National Titles in May and the Hamilton Island Cup in the beautiful Whitsundays in far-north Queensland in June.
We have a few sprint regattas in the South Queensland zone but most regattas are marathon events with distances ranging from 8km to 22km, or 43km for change-over races (Gold Coast Cup and Hamilton Island Cup).

We also have a well-contested race series for one-man (OC1) and two-man (OC2) outrigger canoes that runs from August to December each year, culminating with National Titles in December. This is mostly contested by paddlers with their own racing craft, but Brisbane Outrigger actively promotes and supports this series by enabling suitably experienced club members to train and compete on the clubs fleet of OC1 and OC2 canoes.

Why should I join Brisbane Outrigger Canoe Club (BOCC)?

BOCC has been around for more than 20 years, so we know what it takes to be a successful club. We have built a successful brand around our name with values like:

*       integrity, fairness and ethical behaviour (on and off the water)
*       a strong, competitive culture with respect for all levels of ability
*       a demonstrated commitment to junior development in the sport
*       a commitment to helping our members be the best that they can be

People come to paddling for different reasons. Some want to push their personal limits of endurance and ability and aim for a podium finish every time. That’s great, and our sponsors love it too. Some want to experience the thrill of paddling on the ocean and the camaraderie of team sports without the pressure to “eat the competition”. And some just want to come along for a social paddle, to be on the water with friends, going up and down the river and enjoying the more relaxed side of outrigging.

At BOCC we recognise the need to cater for all types of paddler. Make no mistake, we are a competitive club. We love to win, we aim to win and we do win!

But wins come in many forms. Seeing a crew of Under 12s doing their level best in a race, or seeing the excitement of a group of novice paddlers doing their first ocean race, or even listening to the happy chatter of a boat load of social paddlers returning from their “jolly” to the Storey Bridge are all “wins” as well.

When is the best time to join the club?

Like most sports, it takes time to get to a level of fitness and ability so you can get the most out of the racing season. It is important that we prepare our competition crews properly for the rigours of the racing season. This means we start focussed training during the pre-season (around August/September) so our members can gradually build on their fitness and technique.

The pre-season training usually starts late August/September With the first marathon race of the coming season starting in October.

Novice paddlers race in their own division against other novice paddlers, so the best time to join is when we are running our Novice Paddler programs.

How to get started

The best way to get stated is to attend one of our Come and Try Days. These are run in the latter part of the year and cater for men, women and juniors between the ages of 9 to 19. If you enjoy your first experience you can sign on for one of our Novice Paddler programs for a more comprehensive paddling and training experience.

Novice Paddler Program

There are separate Novice Paddler programs for adults and juniors and these are usually run after two Come & Try days to cater for those who want to take their paddling experience further.

The programs are run as two 2-hour sessions over two consecutive weekends from 9am to 11am. The cost is $125 for adults and $50 for juniors. If you then want to join our club simply pay the difference between the program cost and full membership and start coming to regular training as a member of Brisbane’s premier outrigger canoe club.

This is a comprehensive programme to get you started in Outrigging and will include:

*       History of paddling
*       History of our club
*       Paddling theory, technique & drills
*       Paddling practice on the river
*       Proper rigging of canoes
*       Safety on the water

If you decide to continue on as a new club member, you will complete your training with a swimming proficiency test and practical capsize drill, which is usually conducted either on the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast in smooth conditions. This is a mandatory safety requirement that is renewed annually.

Novice Paddler Program details:

  • 3 days – 1/8, 15/8 & 29/8
  • Cost $100 however this will come off your membership.

* Club paddles are available for your use during this program, but you should plan to purchase your own paddle if you go on to join the club.

What equipment will I need to buy if I join the club?

You will need a paddle which new will cost $270-$400 and a hydration pack. We can give you advice about what would suit you when you start in our club. When you race you will need a club shirt.

When do you train?

A schedule of our training times can be found here.

Is there any afternoon training?

As present we do not cater for afternoon training sessions. However, we remain responsive to the needs of our members and continue to monitor training programs and schedules to balance needs with the ability of our volunteer coaches to run additional sessions.

Expectations of training

In order to be race fit it will be necessary to commit yourself to at least 3 training sessions per week. Social paddlers are welcome at all training sessions but the intensity and duration of competition training usually means they prefer to paddle in the Sunday social session.

Do I have to race?

No, but we encourage everyone to give it a go. The membership fee at BOCC is for social membership only. Members wanting to race at regattas pay additional race fees before each regatta.

We encourage everyone to race and try to fit everyone in teams based on their fitness, commitment to training, teamwork, technique etc.
In your first season there is a novice division so these races are shorter and usually in quieter ocean conditions with an experienced steerer.

Our OC6 racing season goes from late October until late June. During this time there is usually a race every 3 weeks or so. Our race zone extends from Coffs Harbour in the south to Hervey Bay in the north, but most races are run on the Gold Coast and Sunshine coast.

There will be some sprint events early in the season, culminating in OC6 National Sprint Titles, then we move into the marathon season.


You must be able to swim.
You must understand that we paddle in the Brisbane River and on the ocean, with all the risks and hazards that involves.
You must have reasonable upper body strength.