Pinjarra to Ravenswood
With Perth having a burst of cool weather it was an ideal day for a 16.3 km hard paddle on the sometimes narrow and winding Murray River.
This race is one of the oldest races in the Marathon Series with records dating back to 1983. The Pinjarra to Ravenswood is a point to point race along a scenic river.
With 82 paddlers doing the Long Course and 9 paddlers doing the Junior Courses there was going to be some excitement along the way.
At the Long Course start the slowest grids went off first with a Division 1 and 2 Doubles Class starting separately from the singles making 6 groups going off at 2 minutes intervals in this narrow stretch of the river. A couple of paddlers found the start a little hectic and took a quick dip to allow things to sort themselves out.
Paddling off the third start (Division 2 Singles) I was soon relegated to the back of the field but with a good wash ride on a slightly faster Ocean Ski, we soon closed the 2 or 4 min gap on the paddlers that had started before us meaning we were no longer last. Passing others builds the excitement and encourages all to greater efforts to stay ahead or go with the boats passing by. At approximately 5 kms into the race the Division 2 Doubles, Division 1 Singles and Division 1 Doubles all ended up on the same patch of water as the Division 2 and 3 craft. That meant that for the next 3 to 5 km slower paddlers always had a faster boat next to them and could enjoy a good ride with a good increase in speed. Marathon racing does not get more exciting than this and was enjoyed by nearly every one on this stretch of the river. Good positioning allowed the experienced paddlers to extend their rides on faster craft while those with less experienced were in the wrong spot and were left on the outside of the bends, ploughing through the shallows or making sudden turns to avoid overhanging trees.
After a while it all calmed down and only one boat at a time was passing. Paddling under the pipeline signalled the middle of the course with the river starting to widen and the slight head wind becoming more obvious. Turning the last bend and seeing the Ravenswood Hotel you know the finish line is nearby and it will soon be over. One or two people went off chasing power boats to get more wash riding fun after they finished with racing.
The fastest boat on the day was the K2 of Mark L.(AKC) & Brett M.(MOC) in a time of 1:15:27.9, setting a new record for the 45+ Mens K2. James M. (AKC) led the singles home 8 seconds behind. Samantha P.(AKC) was the fastest lady single on the day finishing in a time of 1:24:08.8.
Overall there were nine previous records broken and seven new class records established. Most notable was Luke E.(CRCC) taking six minutes off Simon Roll’s U12 K1 record from 1991. Mathew & Nicolas G. (AKC) established an U14 K2 record, Ann S. setting a Ladies 55+ WWK1 record and Baillee L. (AKC) in her first long race, setting the record for Open Ladies OS1.
While the big kids where racing down the river the younger paddlers where doing a lap course at Ravenswood. Mason K.(AKC) was the winner in the Novices K1 Class with Jeremy A.(CRCC) in second. The U12 Guppy class was won by Harriette A.(CLBC) from Kelly T.(AKC) while the U10 Guppy class had a tight finish with three seconds separating Emerson A. (CLBC) and Andrew W. at the end.
Once again we must acknowledge the work being put in by the volunteers who organise and run the event, from those setting up the entries into the computer, doing the registration and timing. Without a power boat John T.(AKC) paddled upstream to meet the paddlers coming in and making sure all made it home. Out thanks go to the two lovely young ladies who helped with the presentation.
West Australia is sending a strong team over to the Nationals in Ballarat, Victoria over Easter. All the best to them and have a good paddle and hope you bring back a medal or two.