Each of the 27 paddlers from the DDS Kayaking Club will be accompanied to the Hawkesbury by a landcrew member, and many other supporters will travel with them.
This will be the 32nd Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, an overnight paddle of 111 km from Windsor to Brooklyn Bridge on the Hawkesbury River.
The gruelling paddle is challenging yet extremely rewarding, and has raised more than $3 million for medical research, with the major charity being the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation. The UNE team spends more than half of the year training and organising fund-raising events in preparation for the event in late October.
Armidale has had a strong representation in the Classic for many years. The Armidale School (TAS) has provided many dedicated paddlers over more than 25 years, and this year the combined forces of TAS, PLC Armidale and the New England Girls’ School (totalling around 74 paddlers), together with the DDS Kayaking Club, will amount to about 25 per cent of the Classic’s paddlers.
The big support crews work hard through the night to keep the paddlers fed, warm and enthused, as the event requires considerable mind power to paddle through the pain and the blisters. “It’s all worth it in the end,” said Trent Lukins, past paddler and current landcrew member. “It’s an amazing feeling when you cross that finishing line and you know you’ve done it for yourself and for a good cause.”
The first paddlers will leave Windsor at around 4 pm tomorrow (Saturday 24 October) and pass 21 safety checkpoints during the overnight paddle. It takes most paddlers between 10 and 15 hours to complete the course.
Edwina Ridgway, Principal of Duval and Drummond & Smith Colleges, who has attended the event over the past 11 years, said: “Attending the Hawkesbury somehow really does get into your blood. Only 24 hours after the event even the most exhausted paddler is plotting for a place in the team for the following year – to better their time or secure one of the single kayaks. There’s such a ‘buzz’ about this annual event that one can’t help but be delighted to just be part of the team.”
For more information on the event, go to: www.canoeclassic.asn.au
Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, farewelling the DDS Kayaking Club team today before their departure for the Hawkesbury.