Locals ready for rapid Avon Descent tilt


Peter Newbury and Bobby Bense get ready for this |weekend’s Avon Descent.
Picture: Martin Kennealey
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Peter Newbury and Bobby Bense get ready for this |weekend’s Avon Descent. Picture: Martin Kennealey d457347

A SCHOOL teacher and a construction business owner have embraced their underdog tag ahead of this weekend’s Avon Descent competition.

Bayswater paddler Peter Newbury (49) and Dianella resident Bobby Bense (34) are among 467 competitors lined up for the 124km race from Northam to Bayswater.

Newbury said he felt nervous about competing in the “dangerous” race for the first time.

“I canoed as a boy when I was a 17-year-old,” the teacher said.

“I just want to finish. I have a new boat which is an Epic V7, I really just hope it survives.”

Newbury said the introductory briefing was great and organisers gave the novice paddlers a red sticker to wear on their helmets so the others would know to look out for them and help if necessary.

He said a few warm-up races had helped with his preparation.

“Canoeing WA has these preparation races which have been really good; they do a Northam to Toodyay race which is a 32km section on the Avon,” he said.

“You get a chance to see weirs, extracts and rapids, and see the speed of the other guys.”

Newbury said not having access to the river from the Walyunga National Park during practise might take its toll on his race.

“Here is an event we are trying to train for, but there is 20km that I cannot get access to… I have not even seen the rapids,” he said.

Third-time competitor Bense said his preparation had been good so far.

“We have got lots of rain; the water is the highest level that I have seen in the past seven or eight years,” he said.

Bense said he had been paddling for six or seven years and just wanted to enjoy the race.

“My team are not going there to compete, we are going to hang out and have a party and do a bit of paddling,” he said.

“There is no competitive nature; as long as you do not come in dead last, it is all good.”

Bense said he liked paddling in the morning and seeing dolphins and turtles in the river.

“The river is untouched and it is beautiful,” he said.

“There is no one else out there enjoying it or getting in your way.”

This year’s event will feature 100 more competitors than 2015 and a Finish Line Family Fun Day organised by the City of Bayswater.