Iconic Avon Descent event a challenge Adventurethon-ers love
The Avon descent has been around for 43 years, with a mere 49 competitors in its first race. However, these days and over 35 000 competitors later, as far as down river races go, this would have to be THE RACE for Australian Endurance paddling.
In fact an entire wave of boats have been created to fulfil the duty of getting down the course in 1 piece. We know there are several Adventurethon-ers doing the Avon Descent this weekend and we want to wish them all the best. We will be watching with keen interest to see how they go.
We picked the brains of Adventurethon athlete Troy Baird who has 20 years of doing the Avon Descent.
“I did my first Avon Descent in 1995 on the back of a spec double ski. I was young and didn’t appreciate how far 133km was. I teamed up with Paul Briely (fellow Albany Adventhoner) to tackle this high profiled event. I was so nervous I remember vomiting before the start. We took off and about 27km in came to the first major obstacle Extracts Wier. There were hundreds of spectators on the bank waiting to see carnage. As we approached the crowd went silent. All I could hear was the sound of the water. My guts fell sick. We dropped over the weir and made it down. The crowd went wild.”
“1996 was the record year. The river hit 1.8m. Tomorrow will race at around .6. I paddled a spec Burton ski and was happy to finish. I ended up 5th that year. That year the record was smashed and stood for 12 years. I have had a few podiums but I’m also one of the only competitors to have paddled a single ski a double ski a single K1 K2 and last year a K3. I have started 19 Avons, finished 18 after snapping a K2 at a rapid known as deadly mistake. At that point in the race we had a 7min lead on second. This year will be my 20th Avon and am excited today as I was in 1995.
Almost as excited as competing in the Albany Adventurethon in Jan next year.” Troy Baird.
Another Adventurethon athlete we will be watching with anticipation will be Young Kalbarri local Luke Dooley for what will be his first Avon. Luke shocked the paddling scene when he rocked up to Marathon National titles a relative unknown and took out the title for his age group U16 earlier this year. Terry from W.A based kayak business Canoeing Downunder has taken Luke under his wing and helped to give him the skills to negotiate the rapids of the Avon Descent, taking on his first Avon in a plastic Spirit Ski. (a top choice for this type of race as it’s a rough descent and easy to ruin a composite boat.
Luke will have some strong junior competition with massive talent coming out of the Ascot kayak club as well as youngster from South Australia. Sean Lohse (SA) is a Junior World Sprint Kayak medallist and is touted as a future Olympian, which given the fact that Australia is one of the best Sprint Kayak Nations in the word this is a very big ask. This looks like it will be an exciting challenge for the juniors.
Kris Plain is a multiple winner of the Adventurethon, and heading into the event with a few Avons under his belt but also carrying a minor injury from a previous run of the river. He is looking to get through the event unscathed.
It is great to see Daniel Baker stepping up after taking on a never say die attitude to a couple of Albany Ultra finishes and a Kalbarri finish. We know he has what it takes to grit his teeth to get a finish so we wish him luck with making it through such an amazing challenge. (having the guts to start seriously is the hardest bit)
Matt Coutts is no stranger to the Avon having been on the podium and part of the Avon line honours crew with last years k3 unbroken. Matt was actually part of the Albany Adventurethon last year where he broke his arm when falling off his mountain bike… ironic given the team name last year. This year Matt is part of a Double team “farmer jacks” and I would expect to see them vying for something near on the podium.
Other Adventurethon-ers we will be watching are Felicity Millman and Tim Sikma. If you know of any we missed let us know so we can cheer them on also.
We look forward to seeing you all at the next Adventurethon and know that everyone who entered Avon Descent is going to nail Adventurethon.
Upcoming events are:
Adventurethon Coffs Harbour August 20 & 21 More info HERE
Adventurethon Anglesea December 3 & 4 More info HERE
Adventurethon Albany January 7 & 8 More info HERE