Australia: The 2016 World Sprints

The 2016 Va’a World Sprints were held May 5-15 at Lake Kawana – about an hour outside Brisbane.  Thirty-five countries and over 2,000 participants were involved in this international outrigger canoe event; I got to be there.

Take a look:


Participating countries included many island nations as well as bigger countries such as Canada, the U.S., Argentina . . .

We had fun – and the crew I’m on for Kihei Canoe Club on Maui earned a silver medal!   Highlights  include:

The races at Lake Kawana and experiences near there –


Before sunrise, Sookie, Linda L., Teresa R., and Linda K. do stretching exercises before heading to the race course.


Sunrises – and sunsets were spectacular from our Buderim house


Our morning warmups were often to this sanctuary in Buderim


In Mooloolaba – with me, Audrey, Joy, Diane, and Gail.


On Mother’s Day – at a delicious tapa bar – a random guy, Diane, Audrey, Gail, and Joy – yummy and fun.


We ate well wherever we were – here in Montville



At the Farmer’s Market: a flat of fresh strawberries – $5.00 (the best bargain in all of Australia!); fermented beets, organic peanut butter, greens, ginger, . . . wonderful! Audrey and Gail.


Kihei Canoe Club mates – at a fish market dinner.


Audrey and me with the haka chanting New Zealand paddlers – Lake Kawana


Skydivers with flags of all the countries participating in the World Sprints cultural event


Kihei Canoe Club members: Sookie, Linda K., Teresa R., Audrey, Denise (who got me started paddling – yeah!!), Ryn, Linda L., Gail, and Theresa T.


Ryn & Kimokea 🙂


Kihei Canoe Club winners: Susan, Flora, Cate, Cheryl, Ryn, & Ingrid


Close finishes


New paddles – John, Deanna, & Deb


Our Maxine, from the Big Island, and Diane, our terrific steerswoman


Kihei & Hawaiian canoe clubs combine crews for the 12-person outrigger race.


Our winning crew – with Audrey, Joy, Diane, and Maxine.  Where’s Bebe?


Silver medal – I’m very happy. Photo from Katie

The camaraderie was fantastic.  On the last day of the World Sprints, we did t-shirt exchanges with other clubs.  I got a club shirt from an Australian paddler, of course, one from a canoe club near Cairns, and another from Papa New Guinea (where I hope to go one day).


Denise running through the celebratory tunnel


Katie and Gracia – happy winners


Some races weren’t so close


Sometimes it was easy to tell other participants.


Hawaiian paddles presented to the Va’a officials on “Cultural Night” – World Sprints 2016.


Kihei Canoe Club paddlers and chanters

Our adventures continued near Lake Kawana and the Sunshine Coast:


This warning at Lake Kawana is a reminder that Australia has creatures that will do you harm. This race site lake was posted for  deadly sharks, rays, jelly fish, and poisonous fish!! Yikes!  We did no swimming here.

Our fabulous Airbnb house in Buderim, about a 15-minute drive from Lake Kawana – if you don’t get lost – has six bedrooms, a theatre room, a billiard table, pool, sauna, and a fantastic view.


Could this be a Chihuly in our fabulous Airbnb in Buderim?


In the billiard room


On our pool deck: Gail, Joy, Audrey, Linda K., and Diane


Pool with our view toward Mooloolaba


View from our Moololaba – harbor tour


This paddle boarder is within the shark netting that is set up along the Australian coast. However, we learned the net is mainly for psychological comfort. The nets do catch sea life 😦 – but don’t really stop sharks!


Birds diving for fish on the coast near Mooloolaba


Whale One – our tour boat



“The Crocodile Hunter”  – Steve Irwin


We took several hikes to see the flora and fauna


A kookaburra really was in the old gum tree

One of the challenges – besides racing – was driving in Australia – on the “wrong” side of the road.  Audrey and I shared the driving and taking our housemates and crewmates around during the 10 days we were at the World Sprints.  We often got lost – but we found the Australians very kind. I wanted us to have a big sign on the roof that said “American woman – stay away from me.” However, we made it 🙂 without any accident or damage.


Our Economy Car Rental – comfortable and reasonably priced – returned in Brisbane at night after one final adventure of getting lost – after we dropped Gail with her terrific navigational skills and Linda K. off at the airport. 🙂

The next morning in Brisbane, we saw Roger, a Servas friend.   Barry, John and I had stayed with him during a trip to Australia 13 years ago.


On our final day in Brisbane, Roger picked Audrey and me up, gave us a tour, took us to a scenic spot above the city, and then drove us to the airport for the next part of our Australian adventure.   Roger is a great example of Servas hospitality.


KCC paddlers Denise, Mike, and Tara at the airport. 

You may wonder why Denise is wearing a long coat in the 80 degree weather.  The economy airlines in Australia such as Tiger Air and Jet Star charge for each bit of luggage over about 15 pounds that you haven’t paid for before you get to the airport.  Your luggage, some found, can easily cost $500.  Denise has  prudently used the many pockets of her paddler coat, stuffing in  heavy, useful necessities such as her computer. 🙂

After the World Sprints and our wonderful time there, some paddlers rushed off to return to Maui to work, but many of us left to discover more of Australia.  Some went on cruises, some took bike trips, and some of us were on our way to Cairns.

See you mate, Renée




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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

4 responses to “Australia: The 2016 World Sprints”

  1. Rosita says :

    Those photos are great! Hope yuh liked the travel 😉 so…did yuh visited Queensland & New South Wales? Wha’ do yuh think of those states? ‘Re they tropical or cold ones? And wha’ about life quality in Australia?

  2. reneeriley says :

    Hi Rosita: We were in Queensland (Brisbane and Cairns) and New South Wales (Sydney). We expected cold since May is their fall, but we had wonderful cool to warm weather. Things are expensive where we were – a breakfast in a café about $20.00. We had a great time. How are you? Aloha, Renée

    • Rosita says :

      My friend, life cost in Brazil is expensive for us, since we’re facing both a political & economical crisis. Yah, that is. So….life cost has been increased there, at least for us. I’m pretty well, and, FYI, I have started hydrotherapy to relieve chikungunya pain, and I have to confess it makes me feeling much more better. I also decided I wanna properly do a dance course, maybe ballroom dance, to learn a bit of almost all rhythms, although I have to confess my fav ones are the Caribbean rhythms, maybe ’cause I grew up hearing & dancing them instead of the stereotypical Brazilian samba. I wonder about learning bachata or rumba or even learning properly how to dance zouk, instead of being that amateur dancer 💃🏻 So….wha’ are some of typical Hawaiian dances, apart from hula?

      • reneeriley says :

        Hi Rosita: I’m glad you are getting help for the chikungunya, and maybe dancing will help too. It’s wonderful that Brazil has so many forms of beautiful dance. One of the terrific reasons to come to Hawaii is for the dance and chants. Here’s a video clip that will give you a little idea of the types Hawaiian hulas today: . Hope you are feeling better. And I hope the troubles in Brazil are resolved soon. Aloha, Renée

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