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Five-minute breather with… Darren Wall

Darren Wall discovered outrigging about 20 years ago and instantly fell in love with the social sport. He’s since taken the activity to the competitive level, netting second place in the 42km Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge between Cairns and Port Douglas amongst his achievements; but his biggest source of enjoyment is still simply spending early mornings off The Strand with mates. We caught up with Darren to learn more about him and what he gets out of the sport; plus we found out how you can get involved with the Coral Sea Outrigger Canoe Club hosting a free Come Try day for newbies on Saturday, November 7.

“There is nothing like seeing the sun rise across the bay when you’re on the water surrounded by dolphins, turtles and a few good mates”

What are you doing to get moving at the moment? Outrigger canoeing with Coral Sea Outrigger Canoe Club (twice a week now, but up to five times a week during the March to September season). Plus a little bit of gym work and a few beach runs with the pooch.


Darren Wall paddles up to five times a week.

What activity makes you the happiest and why? Paddling outrigger canoes with friends in either the six-person, or one-person styles. I love being on the water challenging mind and body.

How did you discover it? I first discovered outrigger canoes while in Hervey Bay in 1993 at a local boat show and fell in love with the sport, the traditions and the challenges faced in competition and training.

Have you always been active? Yes, I have played Rugby League, and trained in Martial Arts.


Darren with wife Kirstin.

Are you a morning or afternoon mover? I prefer afternoons, however, there is nothing like seeing the sun rise across the bay when you’re on the water surrounded by dolphins, turtles and a few good mates. The ‘morning grumpies’ disappear pretty quickly when Mother Nature turns it on.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? When I’m not paddling, I enjoy spending time with my wife Kirstin out in our boat and playing with our three-year-old Labrador, Benson.

Your most motivating tune? AC/DC – Thunderstuck.

Motivational quote? I have a couple:
“You think training’s hard… Try losing”.
“Every time you stay out late, sleep in, miss a workout, or don’t give 100%; you make it that much easier for me to beat you”.

“Look at your body and into your mind — that’s where your improvement lies”

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? Generally, I like to listen to my body and take to the couch, but — at times — I revert back to the second quote.

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? Happy either way, but with a buddy each pushes the other and ‘betterness’ comes from it.

Most annoying fitness fad? Those people who continually refer to their watches when looking for improvement. OK, they have merit, but look at your body and into your mind — that’s where your improvement lies.

What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Getting second place in the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge (GBROC) in 2013, which is a 42km solo race from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.


The competitive side of the sport.

Most memorable active moment? 2014 Open Men’s Zone Champion on a two-person outrigger canoe with paddling buddy Glenn Nooroa [the NQ Zone stretches from Rockhampton to Port Douglas and Zone competitions are run annually with monthly regattas at various loactions in-between].

What activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? Skydiving (gravity).

What’s something we don’t know about you? My hometown is Dirranbandi.

What’s your next goal? Doing the 2016 season with Coral Sea Outrigger Canoe Club and promoting the sport and the enjoyment that comes with it.

What are you doing to get there? Among other initiatives, we are hosting a free Come Try day on Saturday, November 7 at the Rockpool end of The Strand. This is followed by a six-week challenge (running from mid November to late December) for new paddlers, culminating with a 6km race at the end of the six weeks. This is an awesome way for newbies to get involved, try the sport and experience rapid improvement over a short period of time — there’s nothing like a race to create a bit of extra motivation!


Darren with Benson.

Most embarrassing moment on the go? Falling off my canoe and breaking it after being dumped by a wave on the finish line at last year’s GBROC event.

Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? Nappy Napoleon: Hawaiian Hall of Fame inductee and canoe racing pioneer.

The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… Don’t come too sideways into the beach in large surf (refer most embarrassing moment above).

Most treasured piece of fitness gear? My brand new Antares Outrigger Canoe — I just received it from Hawaii.

My best local fitness tip is… Castle Hill is only hard when you’re going up.

Last words? Let’s finish with another quote: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”.


Get involved

Come try outrigging for free at Coral Sea Outrigger Canoe Club’s Come Try Day on Saturday, November 7. There will be plenty of other newbies giving it a go and you’ll get a run-down before you get into the boat, which will have a mix of experienced paddlers and newcomers so that you get a chance to safely learn about the sport. For more information about this all-ages event, go to our calendar.

Also, stay tuned for the unique ‘6km in 6 weeks’ outrigging challenge that will follow soon after. This is designed to progressively build fitness and paddling skills in a super fun environment and will culminate in a 6km race. We’ll link to more info soon, otherwise contact Coral Sea Outrigger Canoe Club directly at [email protected].

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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