The Middle Swan has a long history as a race on the Canoeing WA Calender. It originally started almost underneath the Great Northern Highway and came down through the Upper Swan Ti-Trees to finish downstream of Redcliffe Bridge at the Ascot Waters Playground, the original home of the Ascot Kayak Club, before they moved to Garvey Park.
After many years of having to shorten the course due to the lack of water the current course was settled on as been about the same length and a few twist and turns to make it interesting. Records in this new format have started in 2000 ..
This year’s race was started on a clear Sunday morning with a predicted minimum of 2 degrees. In the protected valley the wind was not felt until reaching the more open stretches of the river downstream.
With an upstream start the team boats lead off first, 2 minutes later the combined Division one and four paddlers left, followed by the Division 2 and 3.. Paddling up and down this narrow winding stretch of the Swan river took its toll as 2 paddlers took an unexpected swim in the chilly waters and at least one had rudder damage from an underwater tree branch. With the race leaders coming down both sides of the river, paddlers still going upstream often had to take evasive action to prevent head on collisions. The rule is stay right at all times.
The tight turn (180 degree in a 10m wide river) under the Barrett Road Foot bridge was an exciting/worrying point for most paddlers. The K3s bowmen showed their masterly, by bow drawing these long boats around the turn while several shorter craft ended up in the trees on either bank as tighter turning paddlers went inside them.
The long haul downstream then started with paddlers soon forming into groups to keep each other company and the pressure up. Once past Guildford Road bridge the tail wind was felt and an increase of speed occurred. By the time we passed under Redcliffe Bridge the wind had picked up and after the final turn, near the old Ascot Inn, it was a stiff and cold headwind home.
Paddlers where pleased to be finally finished and have a chance of the hospitality of the Ascot Kayak Club and its hot showers, warm food (provided by the Juniors Parents) or a hot coffee from the Riverside Café next door.
Meanwhile, while the big kids were having fun upstream, the youngest ( 7 to 14 year olds) paddlers started their race at Barkers Bridge and paddled the 6 – 7 km back to AKC. For some this was their first race and they did themselves proud finishing in good times. Aiden B. (AKC, first race) lead the U10 Guppies home with Serene T. (AKC) and Levi B. (CRCC) filling the minor positions. In the U12 Guppy K2s Kelly T.(AKC) & Andrew W. (CRCC) lead Ryan B. & Isabella R (both AKC) home. Kelly and Andrew are actually 3rd cousins but had never met until 2 years ago and have since shared a passion for Kayak racing.
In the Novice class Kobe W. (AKC) came home first with Luke E. (CRCC) and Mason K.(AKC) very close behind. Nicole S.(AKC) lead the young ladies home with Gabby B.(CLBC) and Holly T. (AKC and another first timer) following her in.
The short course of 12 km was set as a training run for the Elite Junior Sprinters and the few that turned up had a close run with less than 5 minutes separating the leading paddlers. Joshua C. (AKC) lead the charge home with Zac A.(AKC), Kye B.(AKC) and Caleb B(CLBC) behind. In the Doubles race the girls (Yasmin R. & Shania S.,both BPC) beat the boys (Dylan S.(BPC) & Tim F.(AKC)) followed by the Dads ( Duncan R. & Daniel S., both BPC).
As the adults came home, punching into the cold head wind, many a close battle was seen by the spectators and support crews on the bank. The first 2 x K3s home where separated by 2.2 seconds after averaging 14.1 km per hour for 25.7 km. Andrew C., Matt C., & Cam S., (IOP, AKC) took line honours with the MOC Club team Mark H., Mathew R., & Mathew S., all in matching tops, just behind.
Steve E. (CRCC) & Spencer K. (AKC) was a clear leader in the K2s with a 6 minute gap back to the ladies, Tess W., & Helke M. (both AKC).
In Division 1 , James M. (AKC), Mathew D. (AKC), and Shanon S. (MOC) finished with in a boat length or 2 of each other.
Division 2 had 3 non-regular paddlers coming in first and driving the average speed up above 12 km/hr. Cameron F.(PP) was the winner with Robert H. (IOP) and Buck C. in third. Bronwyn M. (AKC) was the fastest finishing lady on the day, taking 8th position in in this very competitive race.
Division 3 had a run-away winner in Ben C. Chris W. and Rob J. filled the minor positions with Tatianna B.(CLBC) and Jane L.(AKC) being the first ladies home in this division.
Division 4 had the experience of starting on the same grid as Division 1 and enjoyed getting a lift from all others as they came past giving them a faster average speed than in the previous race. First in was Dallas R. (SCC) with Greg F. second and Ronald L.(CLBC) in third place.
Our Volunteers on the 2 main turns and doing the starting and timing deserve a big vote of thanks for getting up so early on such a chilly morning so we could all have fun in a regulated manner. The parents that go out on the water with their children in the Guppy and Novice classes allows us to let these youngsters have a go and start on the proven path to international success. The power boat following on behind making sure nobody was left up the river alone.