The third Vogalonga Down Unda event was held on Sunday 24 April 2022 at Goolwa, South Australia on the Goolwa Channel – the final stretch of the River Murray before it flows into the Southern Ocean. 

The event is non-competitive and attracts a wide variety of human-powered craft including dragon boats, rowing sculls, canoes, kayaks, SUPs, surf skis and homemade skiffs.

Taking place the day before ANZAC Day, this year’s event had an ANZAC theme to honour the wartime service of Vietnam War veterans. The on-water phase of the event started with a parade of all participating craft from the GAC to the Goolwa Wharf Precinct. 

For the first time in the short history of this event, the organisers signed a memorandum of understanding with Paddle SA to encourage the involvement of more paddlers in the event. Paddle SA actively promoted the event through its networks, provided a Paddlers Village with paddle buddies to assist paddlers in and out of the water, and provide safety cover on the water.

In addition, as Paddle SA has previously partnered the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia during its annual Paddle for Prostate event, the organizers of the VDU made the PCFA its nominated charity. All paddlers registering had the option to make a donation via the registration process or go to a dedicated site online to make a tax deductible donation to PCFA.

Of the 274 registrants who participated on the water, 97 were paddling in dragon boats, 93 in kayaks, 3 in surf skis, 12 on SUPs and 4 in canoes. Others rowed in a variety of other boats including a Venetian-style boat built especially for the event, creating a tangible link between this event and the original Vogalonga in Venice, Italy.

The organizers of the VDU see the involvement of Paddle SA as integral to the growth of this event over time. Hopefully with PSA’s ongoing involvement both the number and relative proportion of paddlers will continue to grow to make this a must-do event for paddlers on the South Australian calendar.

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