The event attracted some 50 paddlers from across Australia in all types of craft.
Racing was on the picturesque Goulburn River from the Eildon Weir through and past the “Blue Gums rapids” – some 5 km of river. This is a beautiful section of river known for platypus, trout and its cold clear pristine waters released from the bottom of the Eildon pondage. The river is fast flowing enabling a course presenting a full range of challenging features to the paddler; fast flow, longer endurance stretches, strong eddy currents and some nice level 2 rapids.
This is an extremely popular area for holidaymakers with the adjoining Big4 Caravan Park fully booked and when combined with the paddling community, provided a large enthusiastic spectator group.
Paddlers with skills and experience ranging from novice paddlers to AUS team members provided the large contingent of ICF Wildwater craft. The “General” or non ICF class of craft attracted a totally diverse range of craft and paddlers – again ranging from novice to members of the AUS polo team – who bought energy plus lots of fun to this class.
AUS team and other high-level paddlers from marathon, sprint, ocean, multi-sport, slalom and canoe polo came to try their hand at Wildwater and provided some exceptional results with Rachel De Krester (AUS Marathon) taking out the women’s champion ICF class title. (first time in a Wildwater boat)
Mens champion was extremely tightly contested with James Humphry taking the title from Tom Ladson (both AUS team ) by a tiny percentage. Sophie Hughes achieved Womens U18 Junior Champion and Jerome Drobot Mens U18 Junior Champion (200m sprint paddler – first time Wildwater competitor).
To run the event several clubs came together under the coordination of the Paddle VIC Wildwater Technical Committee and support of Paddle VIC and Paddle Australia: Bendigo Canoe Club, Avoca Kayak Club (NSW), Canoes Plus, Cobram Barooga Canoe Club and River Racing Australia. Support from our peak bodies and volunteers from these clubs were nothing less than outstanding delivering a first-class event under quite demanding weather conditions.
The event was preceded by the River Racing Australia “Festival of Paddling” provided coaching and training to a large number of new paddlers less experienced on moving water. This yearly event is increasing in popularity and proving to be great preparation for the following days of racing.
It was pleasing to welcome paddlers from across the country and others who have returned after life’s demands have allowed. Alister Anderson and Chris Humfrey were back on the water demonstrating beautiful technique. The U16 Men’s K1 was strongly represented with six competitors with Toby Sexton taking gold in both sprint and classic. This will be a great group to watch going forward.
James Humphry, Men’s U23 K1, (AUS team) achieved fastest time for the classic and Tom Ladson, Men’s U23 K1 (AUS team) the fastest in sprint.
The youngest paddler was Max Cain, Men’s U14 General Class aged 10 – an inspiring young man determined to meet the challenge.
A support grant has been provided from Murrundindi Council. This is greatly appreciated and will enable these events to continue to expand and reinforce this location as one of Australia’s most attractive Wildwater sporting venues. As always, the Outdoor Education Group provided access for camping and use of facilities which a multitude of paddlers took advantage off. This continues to be a fantastic accommodation venue for these events.