Towards the end of last year and into this year Australia has seen a large policy shift from the National and State governments alike regarding Covid rules. These changes have opened up the country and allowed travel plans to be made with a now degree of certainty that these plans can be followed through with.
One of our long-time members and avid Wildwater paddler Peter McIntyre approached the AKC Pathways coach Scott Cunningham with plans to take the pathways squad on adventures across the countryside exposing them to the art of Wildwater paddling. The intention is to provide the Squad with a growing skillset in an adventurous and fun environment. Coach Scotty agreed this would be good for the squad and we started planning our first adventure.
First trip was to the Goulburn River in Eildon, Victoria where we met up with the Bendigo Canoe Club for several days of paddling in Creek Boats, which are smaller plastic boats, before advancing to the Carbon Kevlar Downriver racing boats. The squad learned quickly adapting to their new environment enjoying the challenges of moving water and beginning to negotiate rapids.
The last day in Eildon saw a competition with some of the Victorian paddlers where there was a best of 3 sprint races 200m long and a longer 3km classic race held. Racing was tough with some past and present Australian representatives racing in the event. The AKC Squad represented well with their sprint training and some with surf training supporting them well on the river. We came away with some good results and some of the squad members even came away with Podium finishes.
Packing up and leaving to come back home some of the Squad decided to stop for the night at Tumut and check out the Goobarragandra River with the intention of paddling the river if the water was suitable. We spent the night in a motel and received heavy rain accompanied by lightning and thunder. We packed up in the morning and drove out to the section of the river that we wanted to paddle to check the water level and see how much flow there was. The river was moving fast and the water had risen overnight but our experienced paddlers Peter McIntyre and Greg Cowling felt the water was at a level that our squad could manage.
The Squad all suited up and heading down the river in their creek boats on the backside of the picturesque Snowy Mountains. They paddled a 3 km section of the river which was a more advanced rapid than they had previously experienced. All paddlers returned relatively unscathed with smiles that split their faces from ear to ear. It was clear that they enjoyed themselves.
With this adventure over we started planning our next to the Steps on the Barrington River. This would again be a step up in skills and more advanced Rapids for the squad to negotiate. This time they paddled a section of the river from Bindera Farm to the Steps camping ground accompanied by other very experienced paddlers including former Australian Wildwater representative Alex McIntyre. This time there were a couple of bumps and bruises however the squad remained mostly unscathed.
The opportunity to nominate for the National team presented with Ella Lawsen and Huxley Luntungan deciding to give it a ‘crack’.
Initially there was a selection competition targeted for the Penrith Wildwater Stadium however with some states still having border restrictions this hampered the event from moving forward. The Wildwater committee decided to hold time trials for both Sprint and Classic distances to determine the Wildwater team for 2022. Both Huxley and Ella met the Performance %’s required and were subsequently selected into the Junior National Wildwater Team for 2022. Unfortunately the World Junior Championships for 2022 have been cancelled so they will not be travelling. They will be heading to WA in August this year to compete in the National Wildwater competition and there will be training opportunities to develop their skill sets and help prepare them for the 2023 worlds. Along with the rest of the AKC squad camping trips are still being planned to new rivers and rapids with more fun to be had……….