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Five-minute breather with… Angela Cooper

It took a bit of persuasion to get Angela Cooper into an outrigger canoe, but once she got hold of that paddle, it was hard to prize it from her grasp; the 61-year-old now training hard for the upcoming OC1 and OC2 National Championships in Townsville this November. We caught up with Angie to discuss her paddling passion, how she overcame injury, and what she’s doing mentally and physically to get ready for the big event.

Occupation: Oh dear; a bit of a mouthful: HIV, hepatitis and sexual health coordinator for North Queensland.

What are you doing to get moving at the moment? Outrigging, the gym, outrigging, Castle Hill, urban orienteering, oh, and a bit more outrigging.

What activity makes you the happiest and why? Other than spending time with friends and family; being out on our beautiful water on my OC1… a single-seater outrigger.

“Being older — early 60s — I do feel frustrated that I am nowhere near as fast as those younger than me. I conquer it by training to the best of my ability and not giving up trying”

How did you discover it? A work colleague who had paddled for years suggested I tried outrigging. It took her a year of persuasion before I did, then I loved it straight away! That was about eight years ago. I started in the six-seater canoes then added in ‘one mans’.

Have you always been active? Yes, a bit, but nowhere near as active as now… better late than never!

angela-cooper1Are you a morning or afternoon mover? Mmmmm: As long as it’s after 6am (7am is even better); but probably afternoon wins out.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? Haha guess! An early morning paddle with other Townsville Outriggers in our OC6s (six-seater canoes) followed by a yummy breakfast and at least one afternoon surfing the waves on my OC1… or trying to!

Your most motivating tune? Sweet Dreams and just about anything by Queen.

Motivational quote? “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? Remind myself of my goals and that my competition will be out there training 🙂

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? I enjoy both, but probably push harder with buddy.

“Mind you, Johnny Depp and some of the cast from Pirates of the Caribbean would be fun in an OC6!”

Most annoying fitness fad? I suppose anything that gets people active has merit as long as they don’t hurt themselves.

What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Probably coming back after breaking my leg. It was hard mentally and physically. Not only had I done very little activity for months, but all my fellow paddlers had been and improving loads over the same timeframe. The gap felt huge.

Most memorable active moment? Completing a local 5km fun run, non-weight bearing on crutches 🙂 It actually wasn’t much fun, but I was determined to do it and finished thanks to the support of friend and fellow paddler, despite her thinking I was mad.

What activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? One of those ridiculously long extreme adventure races — I’m just slow at running, useless at cycling on tracks, get cold easily, I’m horrible when tired — other than that I’m ready to go!

What’s your arch nemesis and what have you done to conquer it? A lot of self-doubt and frustration. Being older — early 60s — I do feel frustrated that I am nowhere near as fast as those younger than me. I conquer it by training to the best of my ability and not giving up trying.


Angela in her OC1.

What’s something we don’t know about you? I came to Townsville from the UK with my youngest son in 2007 and loved it from the second I arrived.

What’s your next goal? Do as well as I possibly can at the OC1 and OC2 National Championships in Townsville this November. I’ll also be doing the next North Queensland Ocean Paddle Series event — a loop around Magnetic Island.

What are you doing to get there? I have increased my training on my OC1. I recently took part in the awesome Cape Cleveland to Cape Pallarenda race that was part of the North Queensland Ocean Paddle Series. Sealink was fantastic and dropped us off (40 paddlers and their craft) at Cape Cleveland and we paddled 25km to Cape Pallarenda. This was a one-off long race to test the distance, but — aside from that — I’m doing mostly lots of interval sessions on the water and bits in the gym.

Most embarrassing moment on the go? A tiny slip coming down Castle Hill and managing to break my leg in three places… and making the mistake of being in the company of friends with phones and Facebook access!

Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? Lisa Curry. Although mostly known as a swimming Olympian, is also a champion outrigger and a very inspirational speaker who is generous in sharing her knowledge and experience. Mind you, Johnny Depp and some of the cast from Pirates of the Caribbean would be fun in an OC6!


The North Queensland Ocean Paddle Series attracts all sorts of paddlers.

The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… It’s safer coming down the road than the track.

Most treasured piece of fitness gear? My Garmin… just wish it would show faster speeds 🙂

My best local fitness tip is… Just do it! There’s nothing to hold us back in Townsville — we have beautiful weather virtually all year.

Tell us a joke (why not?) Donald Trump?!

Last words? I encourage anyone to pop down and give outrigging a try…. pop onto Townsville Outrigger site or drop down to the beach near the Watermark Sundays mornings. Be warned: It’s addictive.

Get involved

You can join in the outrigging action with Townsville Outgigger Club, or the other outrigging clubs in Townsville. Find out more in our Where to Go Guide here.

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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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