World's best set to make a splash

THE cream of the crop from the world of outriggers is set to make Coffs Harbour home when the Outrigger National Championships and the 2011 East Coast Ski Championships start on Saturday.

The competition, hosted in Coffs for the past three years, will feature 10 past world outrigger champions as well as Olympic kayak gold medallist Ken Wallace competing in the surf ski event.

According to event organiser Mike Mills-Thom, the competition will be fierce.

"Not even at the last few world championships have you got so many big names at one competition," Mills-Thom said.

"The Coffs Harbour Canoe Club has put plenty of time and money into this event to get these guys out here.

"There will be 20 internationals and they are sure to make it one of the closest competitions in years."

The big race of the weekend will be the 25km downwind race from Woolgoolga to Coffs Harbour.

Mills-Thom said the Coffs Harbour event has a strong following and is sure to grow after securing the event for the forseeable future.

"On a world standard, this event is as big as you can get for outriggers," he said. "Because Coffs has hosted the competition so well in the past, it has been awarded the rights to host the event for another five years.

"The club and I have been pulling strings for quite a while in preparation for this."

With quality conditions forecast for this weekend, Mills-Thom can't wait for the event to surge into full swing.

"We have really good facilities in Coffs Harbour as well as the support of the community and local council and that is why the competitors keep coming back," he said.