NSW Slalom State Championships – Cotter River

2023 NSW Canoe Slalom State Championships 28-29th October 2023, Cotter River, ACT

A very successful 2023 NSW Canoe Slalom State Championships were held on the Cotter River this weekend. This event was part of an initiative to rebuild Canoe Slalom participation from the ground up, with the Cotter River venue providing all the elements needed – a grade 1/2 natural river with easy access from the bank and a campground on site (with hot showers). These along with good weather and a local volunteer chef from Burley Griffin Canoe Club providing meals on site, the event was sure to be a success. With paddlers coming from as far away as Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Hunter Valley. In addition, there was a strong contingent from Western Sydney Whitewater Club including many paddlers for whom this was their first race. Our well known Vintage Paddlers Kevin Songberg (River Canoe Club) and Gary Nelson (Illawarra Canoe Club) were joined by quite a few other senior members of our paddling community with a particularly strong showing from the local Burley Griffin Canoe club. We also had paddlers from other disciplines (polo, sprint and marathon) competing in this slalom event.  Altogether this meant for a fabulous atmosphere by the river. 

After a morning of practice for the novices, while the more senior paddlers contributed to enhancing the river channel with some rock moving to compensate for the slightly lower than anticipated water level, the course was set and racing began. Our starter, Ron Elliott, from the Hunter Valley, provided some excellent commentary interviewing each paddler prior to their start and then announcing an entertaining fact over the radio as he announced their start. The award for cheering goes to the Slay Squad (the novice junior girls from Western Sydney Whitewater club) who all ran along the bank cheering on their coach Alex Zarb in each of her runs. 

The K1W event was won by Georgia Rankin (WSWC) with silver going to 15 yo Ada Mackie (WSWC) who put down two clean runs in  an impressive performance, with Alex Zarb finishing with the bronze. The U16 division in the WK1 was taken out by Ada Mackie, with two upcoming paddlers from the North Coast, Maggie Carr (BRCC) and Kate Delaney (BRCC) taking our silver and bronze respectively. It was great to see so many U12 and U14 K1W novices competing in their first ever slalom race. For all of these girls it was a great learning experience and they all embraced the experience. The Gold medal in the K1W U12 division was won by Khloe Schwarzer (WSWC) who impressively didn’t miss a single gate in her two runs.  Lara Wylie (WSWC) took the silver with Sophie Lennie (WSWC) winning the bronze. 

The C1M was won by Kaylen Basset (WSWC) with Declan Ellis (BRCC) taking Silver and Lachlan Bassett (WSWC) taking bronze. Dominic Curtin (WSWC) took out the C1M U18 division and Luke Delaney (BRCC) took out the C1M U14 division. It was exciting to see some of our U12 boys competing in C1 in the U14 division, with Tom Billaut (WSWC)  taking the silver and Jye Deaves (WSWC) the Bronze.  

Tokyo Olympian Lucien Delfour (WSWC) took out the K1M, with Declan Ellis (BRCC) taking silver and junior paddler Dominic Curtin (WSWC) taking the bronze, as well as the gold medal in the U18 division. The U16 division was won by Matt Delaney (BRCC) while up and coming U14 paddler Sevan Billaut (WSWC) put down a fast and clean second run to take the U14 gold medal and finish 6th overall. Local paddler Craig Elliott (BGCC) took out the K1M Veteran class beating Chris Tubb (WSWC) by just 0.31 secs. Long term regular competitor Kevin Songberg (RCC) won the vintage division ahead of his C2 teammate Gary Nelson.

Alexandra Zarb (WSWC) supported by her own cheer squad, won gold in the C1W with two clean runs, with Georgia Rankin (WSWC) in 2nd and local paddler Emily Hogbin-Bourne (BGCC) in 3rd.  Ada Mackie followed closely behind finishing  4th overall and first in the C1W U16 division.   Ada and Emily teamed up to take up the C2W division with fast and clean second run. 

In the plastic boat class, Lucien Delfour showed the speed he needs for the Kayak Cross Time Trials winning the Gold Medal. Nick Herrald won silver and Louise Capel won bronze in this division. 

It was fantastic to see so many old and new paddlers racing and we look forward to seeing everyone on the water at the next event.  The organisers would like to thank all the volunteers, Parks ACT and PaddleNSW for their support and assistance, without them the event wouldn’t have run so smoothly.  

  • – By Julie Curtin
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