Avon Descent: Near perfect water, weather conditions

Power boat winners Jay Branson and David North before crossing the finish line on day two of the Avon Descent.
Picture: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne, Courtesy City of Bayswater
Power boat winners Jay Branson and David North before crossing the finish line on day two of the Avon Descent. Picture: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne, Courtesy City of Bayswater

High water levels made for a near-perfect weekend for the gruelling 125km Avon Descent.

More than 370 competitors took on the 45th annual white water race, with plenty of spills to challenge even the most seasoned participants.

Hundreds of spectators turned out on day one and two in mostly mild and sunny conditions to cheer on competitors.

David North and Jay Branson , favourites in the powerboats, didn’t disappoint as they crossed the finish line in Bayswater first, only 20 seconds in front of rivals Perrin Franks and Michael Prosser.

Experienced racer Branson almost missed this year’s race after a serious motorcycle accident left him with a fractured neck.

Former rivals Brendan Rice and Josh Kippin teamed up this year in a team of two, taking out first position in front of Matthew Dean and James Morfitt, who took out first place on the double kayak, while favourite Darryl Long won the race on his single ski, which he built himself.

Jason Graham took out first place on the single kayak, beating William Lee by seven minutes.

Avon Descent marketing manager Fran Diettrich said organisers could not have asked for a better event.

“It was a great event, with a very smooth run and lots of happy competitors and organisers,” she said.

“Water levels were nearly perfect. After all the rain the last few weeks, we had a perfect weekend up there with no rain and mostly sunny, which was perfect for competitors paddling through the beautiful valley.”

Ninja Warrior semi-finalist Paul Ranger took on the race, signing up for the challenge on his stand up paddleboard on Friday.

Ms Diettrich said Ranger’s performance was a highlight, with it being the first year SUP’s were included in the race.

“We only added the SUP category this year and no one believed he would make it far, but he ended day one (52km) after 08:23:17, which was absolutely sensational and there were so many people who welcomed him with a massive applause.

“He started day two, but got pulled off at Bells Rapids as he missed the cut off times.

“That was absolutely spectacular and will be forever remembered in the history of the Avon Descent.”