Avon Descent 2016: winning paddlers withstand harsh weather in thrilling event

Pictures: Max Laurent/City of Bayswater
Pictures: Max Laurent/City of Bayswater

PADDLERS withstood gusty winds, heavy showers and carnage to finish a thrilling Avon Descent yesterday.

Men’s singles K1 winner Josh Kippin eased through the finish line in a time of 9 hours and 5 minutes, four minutes faster than second placed Brendan Rice.

In the men’s double canoe competition, Innaloo’s Ben Dallin and Broadwater’s Matt Coutts cruised to victory in a time of 9 hours and 14 minutes.

Defending women’s champion Baillie Liddle, from Maylands, finished in third place (12:03:19) behind winner Sam Pilton (11:40:55) and runner-up Kiera Albertsen (11:51:58).

Liddle said the conditions were very tough and tested her limits.

“It was a really good weekend and I managed to get done all of the main rapids; only came away with a few bumps and bruises which is quite good,” she said.

“There was a little bit of carnage on the river; people breaking boats and using paddles and things like that but I managed to get down relatively unscathed.”

Liddle said day two was the most challenging part of the race.

“There was a bit of a spread, generally on day two the valley tends to spread people out a little bit because all it takes is for you to fall in and you lose a few minutes and it kind of separates everyone,” she said.

“The end of a really long race we had this big gust head wind, I felt like it stopped me in my tracks…it was not the nicest wave to finish the race but we got there.”

An Avon Descent spokeswoman said there was a high spectator attendance especially in Bayswater, where there were food trucks, bands and fireworks.

“Great atmosphere at the finish line with the crowd cheering as exhausted competitors arrived…due to strong winds, the race was even harder for them,” she said.

“(The) weather at Cobbler pool was cold, but sunny until the early afternoon, then heavy showers until the last paddlers had arrived, very muddy, but it did not break the atmosphere,” she said.

“Sunday started off with nice weather at Cobbler Pool and fortunately, even though it looked like a lot of rain in Bayswater, it stayed dry until the end.”