Laurie Lawrence of Big River Canoe Club in Northern New South Wales has today been named Paddle Australia’s 2021 Master Paddler of the Year.
Master Paddler of the Year is designed to honour a paddler competing at any level or undertaking significant paddling expeditions during the nomination period.
Laurie works as a Whitewater instructor, as well as volunteering as a coach at club level and a slalom judge.
For Laurie, the award comes as a nod to the hard work he has done to help grow paddling in Australia.
“It’s nice to have some recognition of the work that I’m doing, but that’s not why you do what you do,” Laurie said.
“I enjoy guiding and teaching paddlers how to enjoy whitewater safely. Being able to take the kids on expeditions and see the changes and improvements in their skills and confidence over those few days is the most rewarding part for me,” he said.
The highlight of Laurie’s paddling career, is a magnificent feat by any means, an expedition from Thredbo to the sea.
“The highlight of my paddling was three years ago I organised a paddle from Thredbo to the sea,” Laurie said.
“That was 18 days of paddling and that was an incredible trip. 380km of paddling, and quite diverse.
“I started teaching paddling in 1986, and it always amazes me that I’m still finding better ways and more beautiful places to paddle in Australia.
“Paddling is a personal challenge, which is always good to overcome, and still to this day I’m finding ways to improve,” he said.
Laura Stampa, Laurie’s boss, said that he is their oldest guide, but by far the fittest, most humble and enthusiastic.
“Laurie is always striving to paddle new rivers, and experience new things, and I cannot think of a more influential paddler that I’ve encountered,” Stampa said.
“Two years ago I was fortunate enough to paddle the Snowy River from source to sea with Laurie.
“His enthusiasm, confidence and competent ability to safely navigate all the new rapids, including portaging a few waterfalls and running through the spectacular scenery, was a pleasure to be a part of.
“This award is a fitting recognition of his continued contribution to the development of the sport and his embodied commitment to continued exploration and discovery,” she said.
Paddle Australia would like to congratulate Laurie on this award.