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Paddle Queensland makes a splash relocating HQ to the Gold Coast

Sam Cleveland | October 2020

The Gold Coast is set to become the state’s hub for paddle-based watersports with the recent move of peak body Paddle Queensland to Varsity Lakes.

The organisation’s ambitious plans for the city include expanding the number of Gold Coast clubs, developing local talent and getting more people paddling on our “magical waterways”.

Paddle Queensland Executive Officer Scott Sharples says the Gold Coast is the ideal home for Paddle Queensland, which moved here in March after almost 60 years HQed in Brisbane.

“The Gold Coast is the perfect destination for all our sports, but it’s under-utilised by the paddling community,” he says.

“It’s got the climate – obviously – plus all these magical waterways and conditions that make it easy to paddle year-round.”

Paddle Queensland promote and supports a range of sports, including kayaking, standup paddleboarding, ocean skis, outrigger canoeing and even dragon boat racing.

“So whether you’re an Olympic kayaker or beating around in old plastic canoe, the paddle is the thing that unites us,” says Mr Sharples.

GROWING THE LOCAL FOOTPRINT

While Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast have numerous community clubs across several paddle sport disciplines, we have only the Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club and the Currumbin Creek and Varsity Lakes Paddlers Clubs.

Mr Sharples says the current hotspots are the surf and flat water of Currumbin Creek, Lake Orr (next to Paddle Queensland’s HQ), Couran Cove and Coomera Lake (which boasts a 1,000m flatwater sprint course).

The city also has Paddle Australia’s National Centre for Excellence at Pizzey Park, where our Olympians and Paralympians train.

Paddle Queensland is now focused on growing new clubs in the central and northern Gold Coast to expand the footprint and take advantage of our picturesque rivers and estuaries.

“After Brisbane, the next-most southerly club is in Logan so there’s obvious potential to expand and develop, likely around Runaway Bay or Coomera,” says Mr Sharples.

Interested locals can call Paddle Queensland or one of the local clubs, which offer Saturday tryouts where a beginner can get straight on the water after some expert instruction.

PADDLING’S COVID RENAISSANCE

Paddle club membership in Queensland surged throughout the pandemic, which Mr Sharples puts down to the sports’ flexibility and built-in distancing.

“We give people the opportunity to be outdoors and get active – and still enjoy that social club experience – while giving each other a very wide berth on the water at the end of a 2m paddle.”

Australian suppliers of kayaks and other paddlecraft have also reported to Mr Sharples that stock has this year flown off shelves.

“As difficult as this year has been for everyone, COVID has certainly shown the true strength of paddling,” he says.

MAKING THE MOVE

Paddle Queensland is headquartered in Sports House at Varsity Lakes, alongside the offices of other peak bodies such as Triathlon Australia and UniSport (Australia’s governing body for tertiary sport events).

Mr Sharples says the Gold Coast move will induce developmental and promotional synergies with Paddle Queensland’s new neighbours, and focus eyeballs on adjacent Lake Orr, which he hopes to develop as a paddling venue.

“I think activating a beautiful body of water like that with paddlers, overlooked by residential property and Bond University, will fire awareness of paddling locally,” he says.

The not-for-profit Paddle Queensland was helped in their move south by the City of Gold Coast’s Trade and Investment team, who saw opportunity in hosting the peak body here.

The City has provided great incentives through the Sport Attraction program.

“For non-profits, every dollar counts,” says Mr Sharples.

“So to be able take that financial support from the City and put it back into growing the sport here was a huge incentive for us.”

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