Eildon Festival of Paddling Report and Results

Photo by Louise Blake, Click Photography

The Eildon Festival of Paddling finished on Sunday January 8, in what was a great 4 days attended by many participants.

It started off on Thursday and Friday with a training camp that saw many participants in their Wildwater Race boats put through their paces. Thursday morning commenced with a tempo paddle of the classic course from the dam wall by some 12 individual paddlers to the end of the Pumpkins rapid. Everyone then proceeded to practice paddling back up the rapid that enhanced everyone’s manoeuvring skills followed by sprint practice back down the rapid.

The afternoon paddle was a team’s boat session commencing at the dam wall down the classic course with athletes broken into teams of 3 where the emphasis was practicing wash riding skills. Again at the end of the pumpkins rapid everyone paddled back up the course numerous times then practiced racing down the rapid in teams of 3 with the fastest paddlers starting at the rear and attempting to overtake the paddler in front which is the desired outcome in a team’s race.

The Friday morning session again saw athletes practice their teams racing down the classic course and then paddle back up the Pumpkins rapid for a teams sprint race followed by a number of individual sprint runs to fine tune the lines for the weekend races.

Saturday morning saw the Sprint races on the Pumpkins rapid with some 27 athletes competing with the best of 3 runs to determine overall placings. The fastest time of the morning was from Bendigo U23 paddler James Humphry with a time of 51.3 seconds closely followed by Tom Ladson from Fairfield also an U23 paddler with a time of 51.9 seconds. The U18 Avoca men of Huxley Luntungan and Julian Glew followed with times of 53.8 and 55.9 seconds respectively. The fastest female was Dita Pahl from Canoes + Racing with a time of 1:00.5 followed by U18 Avoca paddler Ella Lawson with a time of 1:03.2. In the Masters age groups the ever green Warren Elms from Canoes + dominated with a time of 58.2 seconds closely followed by Canoes + paddler Simon Watson with a time of 59.5 seconds.

Saturday afternoon saw the running of the Classic Race from the dam wall down through the main wave and finishing just around the corner. This saw 37 paddlers come and compete. It was great to see such a turnout. Again Bendigo paddler James Humphry dominated in a time of 11:44.16 followed by the up and coming U18 Avoca paddler of Huxley Luntungan coming second in a time of 12:28.93, just nudging out Tom Ladson from Fairfield into 3 rd place with a time of 12:31.29. In the female paddlers Avoca’s U18 paddler Ella Lawson posted the fastest time of 13:31.13 with Dita Pahl second in 13:50.28 with Bendigo’s Sophie Hughes finishing 3 rd fastest in 14:11.66. In the masters, Warren Elms again took the honours in a time of 12:53.47 closely followed by Eugene Stackpole in 13:01.76 and Keith Gourley in 13:08.36.

Sunday morning saw some great fun in some seeded Head to Head creek boat races through the main wave with an up stream and down stream gate having to be negotiated in groups of 4 with the fastest 2 paddlers progressing. Ultimately the experience of Warren Elms and Dita Pahl from Canoes + in the respective male and female classes proved too good for the younger paddlers with them taking the top honours.

Sunday afternoon saw the Bridge to Bridge 20Km river race from Thornton to Alexandra which again was well patronised with 25 paddlers. The race saw 5 K2 pairings with the father and sone combination of Hamish and John Young from INCC Yarra taking out first place in this division and fastest overall on the day with a time of 1 Hour 16 minutes. The Avoca pairing of Huxley Luntungan and Peter McIntyre were second in a time of 1 hour 25 minutes.

In the individual K1 races Bendigo paddler James Humphry did a stellar performance in his Wildwater Race kayak to win and hold out both Matthew Gates from Burley Griffin Canoe Club and Timothy Boote from Mitta Mitta Canoe Club. James had the winning individual time of 1 hour 18 minutes and held off Matthew by only a mere 16 seconds.

Click Eildon_Festival_Results_2023 for full list of Event results.

Like any good event it could not run without the support of the many volunteers that make it happen. To that end I would like to sincerely thank and acknowledge the following people:

– Tony Misson from Bendigo for the preparation of the risk management plan and the event advertising.
– John Young from INCC Yarra for setting up the webscorer online entries.
– Carole Luntungan, Daniel Blake, Neville Humphry and Justin Hughes from Avoca and Bendigo for timing and results tabulation.
– Dita Pahl and Roy Farrance from Canoes + Racing for organising and running the Head to Head Creek boat race.
– Garry Brannon and Graeme Smith from Bendigo for doing a run down the Thornton to Alexandra course on Saturday to ensure it was safe and for them to provide the necessary briefing to the competitors on Sunday morning before the race and to then act as sweeps behind the field to ensure everyone finished safely.
– Also there were others helping with car turnarounds.

Lastly a big thank you to all of the paddlers that turned out from many clubs far and wide to make the event such a success. This was a fund-raising event for River Racing Australia which is a club affiliated with Paddle NSW and Paddle VIC which was formed a number of years ago specifically to raise money to financially support its growing member athletes that will be striving to make the various Australian Wildwater touring teams to compete at World Championships in Europe later this year. The success of this event and the funds raised will be greatly appreciated by those worthy recipients that make such teams. So again thank you for your participation and we hope to see you again in future events.

The next major event is the Goulburn Bash conducted by Bendigo Canoe Club. More details to come shortly.

Peter McIntyre
Event Organisor and Treasurer of River Racing Australia

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