MATT Walsh is a young outrigger making waves in the sport.
The 18-year-old has qualified to represent Australia in the IVF Va’a world sprint titles in Tahiti in July in the V1 class.
He has also qualified for the OC6 event with his Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club and is waiting to hear if he has made the Australian elite team for the OC6 event as well.
Now his brother Josh is catching the wave too.
The two have just returned from Queensland, where they competed in the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association’s national sprint titles.
At just 13, Josh is still too young for the world titles but he does have the opportunity to learn from one of the country’s rising stars right in his own home.
‘‘It’s great having him around,’’ Josh said of his older brother.
‘‘I learn a great deal from him. He’s a great sounding board for what I should be striving for and how I can go about setting my goals.
‘‘You also get to watch how he goes about preparing and racing, so you learn about how to get the best out of your performance.’’
The Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association’s national sprint titles featured clubs from across the country, including Echuca.
‘‘It was a competition for both the seniors and the juniors, but it was also a qualifying event for the IVF Va’a world sprint titles in Tahiti later in the year,’’ Matt said
‘‘We were both lucky enough to claim medals in our singles events, plus I also claimed a few in the 12-man and six-man events.
‘‘You’re doing a few 1000m races, which are the heavy turn events, as well as 500m which are straight and all about your speed.’’
Both brothers compete as part of the Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club, despite them both remaining Echuca-based.
The team finished fourth overall in the senior section of the event, while the club finished third overall in the junior event.
While Matt is proud of his own accomplishments (he was a member of Australia’s under 19 six-person team at the IVF Va’a World Distance Championships in Tahiti last year), he takes great pride in his brother’s growing success.
‘‘It’s great for him to get recognition now,’’ Matt said.
‘‘He’s done a great job in the time that he’s been in the sport and he’s got a lot of time to go so he can only get better and achieve more as he goes.’’
While the sport is mostly individual, the opportunity to train together and work towards their goals is something they both take pride in.
‘‘We both have very similar goals in where we are aiming, so it’s really enjoyable getting to work and train together in order to get towards our goals.
‘‘We’ve been able to help each other,’’ Matt said, before Josh very quickly retorted: ‘‘I’ve never really helped you.’’
‘‘Actually, I’ve helped you get stuff ready for events,’’ Josh laughed.
Both are now looking to their next 12 months of competing.
‘‘I only aim to get better now,’’ Josh said. ‘‘My goals are to improve and be able to qualify for bigger events, probably the 2020 world sprints in Hawaii.’’
Matt’s goals are simply to enjoy the travel while he is able.
‘‘I just want to keep going, keep putting in my best performances and enjoy getting to go places with the sport while I still can.’’