2020 PaddleNSW Award Recipients

PaddleNSW is always proud of the awesome achievements of our athletes and volunteers, which are recognised each year through annual awards. Though 2020 has been a different and challenging year in so many ways, we are excited celebrate these awesome paddlers and volunteers for their commitment to the sport and their contributions to the paddling community.

Laura Stone, Instructor/Guide of the Year

Laura Stone, Instructor/Guide of the Year

Laura qualified as a guide and instructor in 2013. Since then she has started her own business Sydney by Kayak offering kayak fitness classes and a way for locals to exercise before work. Laura consistently supports new trainees with work experience opportunities, as well as requiring all her workers to gain appropriate Paddle Australia qualifications. In 2019, Laura and her team took 4,763 people out on Sydney Harbour, with 3,948 the previous year. So far in 2020 (January to August), the number is 2,259 paddlers out on the harbour, impressive numbers considering COVID lock-downs.

Laura has also introduced a popular clean-up paddle, collaborating with the SeaLife Trust and Sydney SeaLife Aquarium as well as local councils. Alongside the Aquarium team, they promoted the use of reusable cups, and through the clean-ups raised funds to purchase a $7,000 Seabin for Darling Harbour. They have almost raised enough funds for a second Seabin in Lavender Bay.

MAKAI Cup, Event of the Year

The 2020 MAKAI Cup was awarded the honour of hosting the PA Australian Ocean Racing Championships, and the selection race for the 2020 Australian Team. In its 9th year, 2020 proved to be the event’s biggest and one of our most challenging.Not only ramping up logistics to host 200 competitors from all over Australia, MAKAI also had to deal with several weeks of devastating fires that ravaged the entire district, resulting in many club members losing property. Then came an East Coast low pressure system that combined with an ex-tropical cyclone from Queensland to produce the ‘perfect storm’ scenario that pounded the entire east coast from the Victorian border through to Queensland. The lead-up week ran like clockwork as we hosted many groups from Queensland, Tasmania, Perth and beyond to show them our unique waterways and coastline.

Paddlers at the 2020 MAKAI Cup, named as the PNSW Event of the Year

Race day was horrendous! Massive seas, and gale force winds battered the coastline, however MAKAI adapted and were able to produce a lap event that proved to be an absolute brilliant spectacle for competitors, support and spectators. The out-and-back course set partly within the Ulladulla Harbour proved the only safe and viable option in regard to competitor safety and well-being. Despite the conditions, the race was a huge success!

Alisa van der Kwartel, Young (U/18) Paddler of the Year

Alisa van der Kwartel at the 2020 NSW State Sprint Championships

Alisa was selected to compete at the Olympic Hopes event 2019 in Bratislava. This honour was put into severe jeopardy when Alisa required major surgery just nine weeks out from this event . Her true grit and determination saw her back on the water in just three weeks and she worked steadily until she went away to compete. Given her interrupted preparation she did very well to make semi finals in a huge international field.

She required a second surgery in January 2020 which interrupted her preparation for the 2020 National Championships and National Junior Team selection. In January 2020 Alisa was named Champion Junior Girl at the NSW State Championships, after achieving a staggering seven gold and one silver in the eight events on offer. At the 2020 National Championships, Alisa won one of the two primary selection events for girls with partner Sascha Taurins, and was named to the Australian Junior Team to contest the Junior World Championships in Brandenburg which were ultimately cancelled due to Covid 19. As a result of these outstanding achievements, Alisa has been selected to train with NSWIS . She is an outstanding role model for younger paddlers and her dedication to being the best she can be is most commendable. Alisa shows a maturity beyond her years and has the potential to step up to the senior ranks.

Allan Newhouse, Masters Paddler of the Year

Allan Newhouse in his handcrafted C1 at a 2019 marathon race

Allan really embodies the spirit of masters marathon paddling in NSW. Despite living on the South Coast, he is a regular at marathon races and in the 2019 series was one of only a handful of paddlers to achieve a 100% participation medal. He won his division (Div 12) in the series, lining up alongside much younger paddlers in the process, and while he clearly has a competitive edge is always adamant that the best bit about paddling is the community and camaraderie. He is an unmissable sight out on the water in his handcrafted wooden C1. If 2020 Marathon Nationals had taken place, he would have been the oldest NSW paddler at 74, yet was already drumming up friendly rivalry with interstate C1 paddlers up to 10 years younger than him!

Mark Sundin, Image of the Year

Mark is a very active member of the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club and a well-known member of the broader paddling community. He takes amazing photos which he uses to promote the sport on social media. This winning photo was taken on a SSCC Botany Bay dawn training run on a cold, foggy winter’s morning. Mark took the photo of the team racing back to Dolls Point just as the dawn broke lighting up the city skyline in a foggy amber glow. The photo captures the beautiful symmetry of a row of paddlers paddling in sync. There’s also a nice balance between the energy of the paddlers and the serenity of the city skyline in the background.

Mark’s winning photo of a SSCC Botany Bay dawn training run

Eileen Callaghan, Volunteer of the Year

Eileen Callaghan, Volunteer of the Year

Recently Eileen stepped down from her role as the inaugural PNSW Freestyle Chair. During her five-year tenure as Chair, Eileen has overseen and bought in many new initiatives in a variety of roles to Canoe Freestyle. These include:

• Introduction of a ‘young girls introduction into freestyle’ program
• Dramatic increase fundraising such as starting regular Bunnings BBQs
• Increased out fleet of junior sized boats
• National Team Manager of the World Championship campaign
• Manages winter pool training sessions, which has been expanded to include slalom this season

• Increased sponsorship and funding of our junior development program with local sporting grants

Eileen has also been the organiser behind all freestyle events which have seen a progression of fun chaos to organised fun. Her welcoming spirit has spread through the sport keeping everyone from young and older all involved in a well connected community glued together by Eileen.

Sharon Hughes, Long Service Award

Sharon Hughes, 2020 Long Service Award

In 2020 we received a single nomination for affiliated clubs for a Long Service Award. This award recognises substantial contribution to the paddling community over a period of at least 15 years.

Sharon is a Foundation Member of NBOCC, formed in 2000. In all those 20 years she has been Club Secretary, and also Women’s Coach for 18 years. Sharon was honoured with Life Membership in 2018. As a competitor Sharon has won many state, national and international titles including part of the 2005 Women’s Masters team that won the Molokai Outrigger World Championship. She is also a former record holder of the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (Master Women’s Sea Kayak division).

Bob Turner, Coach of the Year

Bob Turner (left) in action at a morning training session

Bob gives a significant amount of his time to developing paddlers. He runs regular training sessions as well as working with individuals, giving stroke corrections when he paddles past us. He pays particular attention to developing our junior paddlers. Along with Kaye Laurendet, Bob runs the very popular SSCC time trials which helps us have fun on the water and improves our racing skills. Rain, hail or shine, Bob spends the early hours of Tuesday mornings working with paddlers of varying abilities and aspirations. Whilst some are focused on improving their racing performance, his primary goal is to improve our paddling so we can paddle injury free well into the future. When Bob goes on holidays he provides a coaching plan to keep the sessions going.

Bob is encouraging some of our senior paddlers to progress into coaching. He holds special development sessions for these paddlers. His aim is to make sure they coach the same technique, so they don’t confuse paddlers. Bob actively and responsibly communicated with paddlers during the COVID restrictions to keep us on the water and paddling safely. He had us training in small groups as soon as the guidelines permitted. Bob stood for hours in the cold on the bank of the Woronora River yelling drills and stroke corrections while we kept our distance out on the water.

Tony Hystek, Coach of the Year

Tony Hystek, Coach of the Year

As a coach, Tony is committed to engaging with the whole range of paddlers at their own level. He is the regular volunteer coach of Lane Cove’s Tuesday/Friday morning squad, leading a mixed-ability group of up to 16 paddlers with an eye for inclusion and core skill development. In 2019/20, this group has included one open-age Australian representative paddler, high-performing masters, and several who have been paddling for less than two years or are new to K1s. The camaraderie and sense of team growth fostered in the squad is important for many of these paddlers, giving them a sense of structure in their paddling, and a community who are all committed to improvement.

Outside the squad, Tony is extremely generous with his time, always finding the space to work with a new paddler on basic technique or to work on specific skills with individual club members. Though he has personal paddling goals, he seems to take the greatest pleasure from seeing those around him improve and achieve their goals, and as such is an irreplaceable part of the LCRK paddling community.

Naomi Johnson, Female Paddler of the Year

Naomi Johnson at the 2019 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic

Naomi had a huge 2019/20. Serious focus on training led to Naomi competing in 2019 as part of the Australian Team at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Shaoxing China where she paddled a double kayak with Windsor paddler Laura Lee competing against Olympic-level female paddlers. A key local achievement was the 2019 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, seeing Naomi cross the finish line at Mooney Mooney just before 2:45am in an official time of 9hrs 28 mins 55 secs. In doing, so Naomi achieved a number of firsts:

• Broke the existing HCC Women’s Open K1 record by almost half an hour.
• Set the fastest EVER Women’s time in the HCC’s 43 year history
• Was fourth fastest single boat on the night (male competitors in first three positions)
• Was the fastest finishing woman and fourth fastest on handicap for the night

Whilst particularly pleased to have set this record, Naomi is keen to see more female paddlers competing in the HCC and kayak racing generally. Before it’s ultimate cancellation, Naomi was instrumental in promotion and publicity for the 2020 HCC event. Her outstanding achievements in 2019/20 were recognised by Paddle Australia when Naomi was announced PA Open Female Marathon Paddler of the Year.

Dylan Littlehales, Male Paddler of the Year

Dylan is no stranger to our awards, winning the PNSW Adaptive Paddler trophy in each of the past four years. Some of Dylan’s achievements in 2019/20 include:

• Paddle Australia Grand Prix 1 – made 500m B final in open 500m event (racing in his para boat)
• PA Grand Prix 2 – made B final in open K1 200m (racing in para boat)
• Won all para events over the year
• Sprint Nationals – qualified for para-Olympic team before the games committee changed selection criteria and made it that everyone needs to re-qualify in 2021

• Sprint Nationals – PB time in 200m and still looking to improve his performance at the world level, where he is currently ranked 4th

Dylan is a marvellous ambassador for paddling at club, state and national level.

Dylan Littlehales paddling for Australia in 2019