Descent kayaker keen to make up for lost time

Bring it on: Andrew Maurice is looking forward to the challenge of competing in his first Avon Descent.
Bring it on: Andrew Maurice is looking forward to the challenge of competing in his first Avon Descent.

‘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, even though it can be remote, is still close to Perth,’ Maurice (49) said.

The Mosman Park management consultant and Swan Canoe Club member started kayaking for fitness, camaraderie and club social life two years ago.

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

On August 2 and 3, Maurice will join hundreds of other competitors in the 42nd annual race for paddle and outboard entries along 124km of the Avon River from Northam to Bayswater.

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

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

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

The first race 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 would get a chance at prize money in two new sprint stages where the fastest paddle and powercraft will win $800.

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

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