Ocean class school boy off to world titles

May 31, 2017

Paddler Matt Walsh. Photo by Luke Hemer.

THREE years after taking up outrigger paddling, Echuca’s Matt Walsh will head to Tahiti next month to represent his country.

Walsh, a year 12 student at St Joseph’s College, is part of Australia’s under 19 six-person team contesting the IVF Va’a World Distance Championships from June 27-30.

He said the chance to test his skills against the world’s best paddlers was exciting, with his first trip overseas an added bonus.

‘‘It’s pretty cool. I can’t complain with a trip overseas and I miss a bit of school too,’’ Walsh said.

‘‘It’s going to be exciting but it will be interesting to see how we fare against a lot of the other countries.

‘‘I reckon we’ll do all right and we’re a pretty good chance to win, to be honest.’’

Walsh took up paddling through a school competition and continued to pursue the sport after.

And on experiencing his first ocean race, he knew he had chosen the right sport.

‘‘When I did my first ocean race, it was like nothing I’d ever done before,’’ Walsh said.

‘‘When you ride waves on the canoe it’s just such a great feeling. That was in Tasmania in the first big race I did, and from there I just loved it.’’

A member of the Echuca Moama Canoe Club, Walsh trains on the water five or six times a week, with an extra few running and gym sessions.

‘‘It’s normally about 16 kilometres a session but on weekends I do 20 to 24 kilometres,’’ he said.

And the long-distance training will need to pay off for Walsh and his teammates, with the V6 event in Tahiti a 27 kilometre race.

‘‘I’ve raced with the team before in a few different races,’’ Walsh said.

‘‘The most recent was (on May 20) in the National Marathon Titles up at Mooloolaba.

—Continued page 21

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