States rise to race challenge

States rise to race challenge

The Interstate Challenge will include individual elite paddlers competing directly against one another over the gruelling 124km of the two-day event on August 3-4.

The challenge will be a test of fitness, strength and ability as competitors use identical, plastic 5.7m paddle craft designed and specially built by Perth company Spirit Paddle Sports.

James Duncan from Dunsborough will represent WA this year in his ninth Descent.

In 2006, Duncan won the long plastic division and has placed in the top five competitors in each year since.

Other Challenge competitors include Alan Albert (Victoria), Chris Alagich (SA), Luke Morrison (NSW), Dane Sloss (Qld) and Stewart Bennet (Tas).

Morrison and Alagich smashed the Avon Descent records in 2008, but finished second and third respectively.

Alagich was third in his Avon class last year and Bennet is a National Wildwater champion

Sloss is making his Avon debut but is a world-class ocean paddler.

Duncan said he was honoured to be representing WA.

‘I have done a lot of different types of endurance races but nothing compares with the gruelling nature of the Avon Descent,’ he said.

‘I will certainly give this year’s event my best shot. I’m hoping local knowledge will give me an edge over the other states’ competitors.’

The state competitors have been chosen in consultation with Canoeing Australia, Spirit Paddle Sports and Northam’s Avon Descent Association.

Association chairman Kevin Harrison said the competitors had been invited based on their ability to race in marathons and white water.

‘The course offers competitors a variety of conditions, ranging from long stretches of flat water that can test the endurance of the fittest athlete, through to fast rapids,’ Mr Harrison said.