Fraser Coast Outriggers Canoe Club president Michael Willson and some of his members, Brett Woof, Tayla Bentley, Lynda Forbes, Anne Cupitt, Dawn Reynolds, Nikki Boyd, Lynn Bray and Wendy Bentley.
Fraser Coast Outriggers Canoe Club president Michael Willson and some of his members, Brett Woof, Tayla Bentley, Lynda Forbes, Anne Cupitt, Dawn Reynolds, Nikki Boyd, Lynn Bray and Wendy Bentley.

Outrigger club president rules the seas

OUTRIGGER CANOES: For 79-year-old Fraser Coast Outrigger Canoe president Michael Willson, it is the coffee that keeps him involved in the unique sport.

“It is all about enjoying the coffee and the camaraderie,” he said.

Willson will celebrate his 80th birthday on February 8.

After an illustrious career in the British Merchant Navy that took him all around the world, Willson retired to Hervey Bay in 2004 with his wife Glenys.

He joined the Fraser Coast Outrigger Canoe Club in 2008 and has been a member of the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA) ever since.

Willson has keenly participated in paddling events at home and away at South Queensland Zone regattas.

He attends three training sessions a week with an average of 10km per session.

So enthusiastic about paddling was Willson that he invested in his own OC1 (one-person canoe) and later an OC2 (two-person canoe) where he could paddle with another keen person.

Over time, Willson proceeded to get involved with off-the-water club activities and took on the role of Equipment Officer, ensuring canoes were repaired and prepared for life on the water, not to mention the myriad of other chores in the club compound.

He has also held the positions of Treasurer and President multiple times during his time at the club.

“I believe, to have a good club, it is about being inclusive and that is what we are, we are a club for everyone,” Willson said.

Club members speak highly of Willson and his generous support of new paddlers to the club along with all paddlers over the years.

Club member Martin Webb believes Willson is an inspiration for all outrigger canoeists.

“We thank him also for leading the club in its negotiations, growth and development with the Fraser Coast Regional Council, AOCRA and SQZ, and for bringing the club to the level of success it experiences today,” Webb said.

“Mike has progressed through the age divisions of Golden Master (60+ years) and Platinum division (70+ years). It now looks as though AOCRA need to invent a new age division for paddlers of 80+ years and that might have to be called the Titanium division.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved or having a try at outrigger canoeing can contact the club via its Facebook page.