Paddle NSW State Sprint Championships

Guy Robinson from MWKC shares his experience of an exciting weekend of sprints racing.

The NSW State Sprint Championships were held on the weekend of 18 and 19 January 2020, with heats on the Saturday and finals on the Sunday. Attendance was fantastic and the camaraderie between clubs was a highlight for me, not to mention seeing some of Australia’s fastest kayakers flying down the course in the hope of Olympic selection for Tokyo 2020.

Sunrise at SIRC

The event was held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre (SIRC), in Penrith. For anyone who hasn’t been there, the infrastructure this facility has to offer is first class – a vast car park, all weather seating area, asphalt paths to follow the races on foot or by bike, a canteen, pontoons, and a huge warm-up lake and even boat racks. It really helps set the mood for great racing.

Saturday started with an ominous forecast for rain and possibly strong South Westerly winds, but overall conditions were good, winds quite mild with only a slight advantage for lanes 1-3. Most people had arrived by 7:30 in order to prepare for the races, the first of which started at 8AM sharp. They were raced over the standard 1000m, 500m and 200m distances with around 2-6-minute gaps in between races.

This event marked a return to Sprint racing for juniors at my Club, Manly Warringah, and I paddled in all distances in K1 for Manly, and paddled a K2 and K4 team boat with the Sydney Northern Beaches Kayak Club. Special thanks to Christine Duff for including me, it was a great experience to get out on the water with competitors from other Clubs, some of whom are also school friends. There was a highly competitive field with a wide range of paddlers with different abilities on the water.

Close racing in the Men’s K2. Photo: David Hispley, MWKC

Given that this is an Olympic year, we were all especially lucky to see Australia’s elite sprinters in action on both days. The highlight for me, and probably many people alike, was the Mens Opens K2, with a 0.77 second margin between first (Jean van der Westhuyzen and Tom Green) and second place (Murray Stewart and Lachlan Tame).

The organisers and volunteers in the finish tower did a superb job, it was a well planned event and ran like clockwork as per usual, with no interruptions. Race results are always accurate and are published only minutes after a race.

Not only was this event great for the racers, but also the spectators. Don’t think you have to be a paddler to enjoy the experience. Races were run frequently, and the opens-class showcased some of the best paddlers in Australia, finishes were often nail-biters. I encourage anyone who is even slightly interested in kayaking to come out and have a look, you won’t be disappointed.

All regatta results available HERE

Further selection events will be Grand Prix 2 (GP2) on 14-16 February and the National Sprint Championships/Olympic Trials on 15-19 March.

Guy is an U/16 paddler from Manly Warringah Kayak Club.