FORT MYERS BEACH, Fl. - We're used to seeing all kinds of water sports here in Southwest Florida. But Sunday, Fort Myers Beach had even more traffic off shore as teams from around the country competed in the outrigger canoe and paddle board exhibition race!
Athletes from all walks of life...
"We've got guys that are CEOs, teachers, to tradesmen to policemen, I mean theyre all here..." says Lex Raas.
All competing on a level playing field.
"It's really cool but then you get on that canoe and you're all equal," he adds.
The 2013 Ultimate Water Games brought together eight outrigger canoe teams from across the country, battling the waves to maneuver these 400 pound, 42-foot long canoes through a 4-mile course around Fort Myers Beach 4 times.
Ten-year paddler Lex Raas has competed with outrigger teams in waters all over the world and Southwest Florida brings it's own challenges.
"There's a lot more currents and shallows so it's a lot more than paddling fast, it's picking the right lines, not getting bogged down on the shoals and like today there's going to be quite a bit of current for us to work with," he adds.
The sport has been around for decades. This race includes six person teams made up of men and women.
"Just amazing that the progress this has made from a couple thousand years ago when the Tahitians came across on their outriggers to the sport that it is today," says Pam Sharette.
Organizers and competitors hope this sport gets an even bigger following here.
"Everyone benefits from something like this, not just the athletes but it's the hotels, the restaurants, the businesses it's everyone," says Danni Balczon with Ultimate Water Games.
"This is really something that's unique and that's kind of why we got so excited about it," adds Ellisa Etter with Pink Shell Resort, the host venue for the event.
Organizers say they hope to hold an even bigger outrigger event next year to include 8 different sporting events.