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Outrigging for everyone

Local Outrigging group, the Bombora Outriggers, will soon have a new four-man outrigger canoe that will allow disabled members of the club and Bribie Island community a better experience.

Bombora Outriggers Founder Roz Fritz explained that the canoe they are getting wasn’t specifically designed as a disabled canoe but that it is being adapted into one.

“It has big bits under the seat that we’re just going to waterproof and then we can put prosthetic limbs in there so that we can sail down the passage and they can put their leg back on and walk around with the rest of us rather than having to leave their leg in the car and hop around when we’re going down for a picnic.” She said.

Mrs Fritz started the first outrigger group on the island back in March of 2016, when she formed the Island Outriggers. This eventually split into the two separate outrigging groups on Bribie Island; Mahalo and Bombora. Even prior to setting up outrigging on Bribie she was keen on making outrigging as a sport available to those with disabilities. The four-man canoe that the group is now getting is finally bringing her vision to life.

“I actually saw it probably five years ago and I was quite taken with it then, I thought what a great idea. It has a bilge pump built in so you don’t have to bail it out if it does go over which makes it a lot easier on everybody in the canoe. And it was just a great idea to have a four-man canoe which means we can go out with four.” She said.

This new four-man canoe will be one amongst many other canoes for the club but it is the first four-man that the group owns.

Mrs Fritz listed the different canoes the club currently owns “So we now have the two old sixes, which we’re getting professionally turned into a twelve man with a platform that will have a wheelchair on it, so we can take a wheelchair on it and they can get the feel of paddling and the wind in their hair and all that sort of stuff. So that’s our twelve-man, we’ve got our new six-man, we’ve got a new three-man, we’ve got two two-mans and we’ve got two privately owned; one three-man and one one-man, so… we’ll be able to put them all on the water down there and go how many have we got today and just take the appropriate [canoe].”

Adapting the four-man canoe for disabled use is just one of many ways Bombora Outriggers aims to help the island’s disabled population enjoy outrigging.

“We’re working with Spinal Life Australia, with Bill Peacock and Wayne Slattery. Wayne actually started Sailability in Victoria and has done a lot of work in the disabled charity line, Bill Peacock received an OAM for his work in Polio support… which expanded into disability. And yes we’ve got some people from Spinal Life interested in coming, my physio’s got two people coming down… So word is getting around that we do cater for disabled people and that’s what we’re being set-up for. Eventually we will have a wharf with a hoist on to help people in and out of the canoes, so they just have to go from one level to the other.” Said Mrs Fritz.

Bombora Outriggers is an inclusive club focussed on allowing the greatest level of community access to the sport and the magic of being able to enjoy the beautiful experience of paddling on the Pumicestone Passage – the four-man canoe provides that accessibility.

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