Teams get to grips with whaleboat oars

TEAMS from across the south-west are readying their arms as they vie for the Australian Whale Boat Championship on February 17. 

Momentum is building towards the Hopkins River race now only two weeks away. 

Warrnambool City Council tourism services manager Peter Abbott said most crews had been training since October in the replica whale boats. 

“They’re 650kg, it takes a fair bit to get them moving,” he said. 

The event will be kept local this year with no teams from Melbourne or Adelaide handling the oars. Next year will see the Americans return to contest the title, after Warrnambool sent a delegation last year. 

Mr Abbott said the race was now receiving national coverage, making it a drawcard sporting event. 

“It’s a very unique Warrnambool event and a good way to promote the town,” he said. 

Exactly 23 teams have signed up for the championship this year with some more determined than others to stand next to the trophy. 

This year will be the fourth time Patrick Groot has entered the race with the Stroke Masters team — a team of stroke nurses from South West Healthcare and the Masters Swimming Club.

“We don’t take it that seriously... I think it’s a bit of a morale booster and it adds a different dimension to your work.”

 The long running pun has helped the group secure funding from the  National Stroke Foundation. 

“We see it as an added bit of value about stroke prevention,” he said. 

But they’re not the only team hailing from medicine. 

Two new crews called the Mentalists, made up of mental health staff, and the Allies have directed jibes at each other around the hospital for weeks now. 

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