Racing its own reward for late starter

First-time Avon Decsent competitor Andrew Maurice. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d423157
First-time Avon Decsent competitor Andrew Maurice. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d423157

‘It’s great just getting on the water at the beginning of each day, and now knowing that we have this great place on our doorstep, and also the Avon which is still close to Perth,’ Mr Maurice (49) said.

The Swan Canoe Club member started kayaking for fitness and the social aspect two years ago.

He said he had been impressed how the sport had also brought him close to the river’s wonders, including close encounters with dolphins and birdlife and seeing the sun set on twilight paddles.

Next weekend, Mr Maurice will join hundreds of other competitors in the 42nd annual race for paddle and outboard entries along 124km from Northam to Bayswater.

‘I’m just going to try to finish, as all I’ll be competing against will be myself,’ he said.

He and some friends had a 31km practise paddle from Northam to Toodyay 10 days ago.

‘It was magic up there, but it was challenging,’ he said.

The first Avon Descent in 1973 attracted 49 competitors who paddled without rules, officials or spectators, but over the years, about 30,000 people have competed from WA, interstate and overseas.

Descent managing director Craig Smith-|Gander said all competitors had a chance at prize money in two new sprint stages where the fastest paddle and powercraft would win $800.

This year, spectators and support crews can use a new mobile phone application to send results, tips, allows people to share photographs and access social media links.

‘So far, we’ve had some substantial rains to date, particularly in May, so if we get good rainfall this month, we should have a good race,’ Northam Avon Descent Association chairman Kevin Harrison said.