The LCRK 2018 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic Report

You can download the FULL HCC Race Report in two parts:

Report Highlights

Part 1:Part 2:
Records and HonoursShort Tales of a Long Night
Stories from the K4Tales from the SHOcKers
Thoughts about A Secret River (Suzie)The Saga of Boat 183 (Rich Y)
Stories from Don J, Pete M, Jezza and moreWonderful Volunteers and much more!

A few links....

Above: Loud, excited and ready for a long night. The Lane Cove team is all set for the race!

Above: PRELIMINARY results for LCRK associated paddlers in 2018 - 4 broken or new records

The Report.... least a beginning!

Well, the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic is done and dusted for another year. It seems to have been a night of anomalies: depending who you ask it was hot, cold, windy, still, and the tide was both great and not so great. Lane Cove boats were a strong presence on the water, with a few records sure to fall when official results are released. And of course the paddlers were spurred on by landcrew and volunteers doing the HCC in true LCRK style, enthusiastically and efficiently with oodles of smiles and lots of laughter.

Following weeks of wet weather, it was a relief to find Saturday morning clear and almost cloudless. The temperature continued to rise, promising almost thirty degrees at Windsor in the mid-afternoon. Paul van K, Ian W, Tim Mc and Oscar C looked like they had been on the ground for a while when paddlers and their landcrew began to pull in. Bit-by-bit the team assembled, completing registration and scrutineering, and making last-minute preparations for the race ahead. Jezza S just made it to the 2:30pm team photo before dashing off to scrutineering, then it was time for the general briefing and some warm-ups.

Still feeling the heat of the day, the BoB1 start was on the water at 4pm, followed by a LCRK-packed women's and juniors start at 4:15pm. Chris S and Richard B were the only reported paddlers in the BoB2 start, before the racing men's and mixed classes streaked off at 5 and 5:15pm. All our landcrew probably breathed a sigh of relief – "they're off, and now we have at least a few hours of peace and quiet."

A highlight of the stretch to Sackville has become Ian's photo opp at Pitt Town. This year he was poised and ready, submerged up to his waist in order to snap the very best paddling shots as everyone powered, cruised or meandered past. Biggest smiles of the afternoon must go to the women's K4, while Ian reported later that "the freight train of washriding 5:15pm starters was truly intimidating when they came past me - nearly had to get back on dry land!"

Above: The 5:15pm freight train. Spot the LCRK paddlers in the mix!

Quick or slow stop at Sackville, and it was back on the water to face the turning tide. While the final light of sunset seemed to dwindle in the sky or a while, moonrise was a still a way off, and the Big W seemed eerily dark. For the two women's doubles of Naomi J/Sophie W and Rae D/Alison C, it was also eerily quiet – the four were the first boats to leave Sackville and stayed at the very front of the race until Wiseman's.

It's such a relief to reach the 60km checkpoint at Wiseman's. After the dark and quiet of the river there is suddenly noise, enthusiasm and even some hot food! Added into the mix this year was the strong outgoing tide, and the unavoidable wind, which stirred up metre-high waves on the long Wiseman's straight. As usual, LCRK put on a fabulous BBQ for the waiting landcrew, and mudlarks Jeff T and Alex B were poised with booties and sponges to manage valet parking HCC-style. Some stopped to take in the lights and activity, others hurtled through with eyes already focused on the finish line.

From Wiseman's the river gets wider and the tide continued to hurtle in. The moon rose, fish jumped and checkpoint by checkpoint boats were getting closer to the finish. Unbeknownst to paddlers at the very front of the race (who were feeling great that nobody was catching them!), all was not well with the second Wiseman's ferry, which was stopped for repairs in the middle of the night. Paddlers were halted for up to 25 minutes, inducing cold and more than a little frustration. The current word is that times are being adjusted.

Ferries weren't the only drama for the night, with the wind speed really picking up in the early hours of the morning. At 6am, officials decided to cut the race short and relocate the finish to Spencer, not wanting to risk any more capsizes further down the river. For those that made it past Spencer before then, it was a brisk journey down to the finish, with a newly-turned tide helping boats along in the final kms. There are rumours of both Tony H and the K4 taking dips along the way – we're really keen to hear the full stories there! Lane Cove put on a fabulous welcome party on the finish line from the very fast boats to the latest arrivals, and it was wonderful to walk up Mooney Mooney boat ramp into the capable arms of friends.

Congratulations to all that paddled on Saturday night, and thank you to all that supported the paddlers as landcrew and general volunteers. We couldn't have done it without you!

from behind the camera.... (Ian Wrenford)

2018 was my fourth HCC, none paddled mind you, all landside – so not sure if that counts towards anything….

My main priority this year was getting photographic coverage of paddlers as they passed through Pitt Town (Percy’s Place). Percy’s is some 9km downstream on a hairpin bend with the paddlers invariably coming in tight on the bend, still fresh, and with smiles still on their faces. The lighting was good (behind the photographer) and the backdrop is great (landscaped Wilberforce river frontages). Great conditions for taking piccies

Above: "Percy's at Pitt Town - the calm after the storm

With high tide at Windsor scheduled for 3:55pm I took particular interest in the tide (and current) at Pitt Town. When I arrived at 4:15pm there was evidence the water levels had indeed dropped (say 2-3 cm) however twigs and debris were still flowing upstream. It took another 20 minutes or so for the current to work out the tide had changed (and this fits very nicely with what we’ve modelled in the HCC calculator).

The first paddlers were expected a little after 4:50pm – given their 4pm start and a say 10km/h pace. Whilst patiently waiting, an errant speed boat (beers in hand) sped upstream around 4:30pm, followed a little later by a SES boat, and a few minutes later by a Maritime boat. Shortly after – the speed boat returned, and the Maritime boat, and then the first batch of 4pm BOB1 paddlers.

I’d positioned myself waist deep in the water with the aim of a) getting up close and b) getting the camera at the same height as the paddler. And good tips from LCRK’s camerista including Tom Holloway and James Pralija.

A few highlights:

  • The K4. I’d pre-warned them to keep an eye out for me. But that wasn’t coded in the GPS track. Nevertheless, Wendy still executed a handbrake turn for the photo opportunity.
  • The 4:15pm womens start – in particular the LCRK tag team of Naomi/Sophie Johnson and Rae Duffy/Alison Curtin in the early stages of their paddling partnership to Wisemans and beyond..
  • The 5:15pm had a flotilla of washriders out in front – MOST of them LCRKers and a real challenge to get happy snaps of ALL of them as they flew past. Nearly caused whiplash…
  • The Canoes – the HCC had attracted a good number of Canoes including visitors from Victoria and overseas – great camaraderie and some serious competition evident.
  • The Armidale crew (combo of University and School contingents) – invariably happy, invariably equipped with music (loud), invariably serious.
  • The happy campers ashore 100m downstream of me - with colour-matched wakeboat, esky and 4WD ute – playing music, LOUDLY. The music? Some Country AND some Western! Johnny Cash! John Denver. John Duffy lingered then realised this was not yet the low tide pit stop….
  • The ‘last two’ paddlers – in sit-on-top boats and with little experience. Happy as. (apparently they walked from Sackville to Wisemans after missing the cut-off).

From there it was onto Wisemans to be greeted by the LCRK facilities with Oscar, Wade Tony Carr, Alanna, Alex evidently having been busy for a while. The tide was low - very low, with the infamous Wisemans mud on show. Over the next few hours, the tide came in and so too did the doubles pairings of Naomi/Sophie and Rae/Alison, and Fitzy/Brendan then it started to get busy! Tony Carr was in his element playing host and manning the BBQ. The rising tide allowed the mudlarks to utilise the reeds for multi-stack parking which came in particularly handy when the river was closed for ferry towing. A late night for me – but not as those who stayed back for final Wisemans boats and final Wisemans pack-up (Oscar last out at what must have been 2am rounding out his 21 hour day?). Well done everyone - paddlers, volunteers and the organisers!

Above: "Come my children, we will portage around the broken ferry" (the clock showing ferry closure time)

Stories from the K4

Kerrie Murphy:
Less than 18 months ago I found an hour paddling to be as enjoyable as an hour in a dentist’s chair. It really hurt! And all I could focus on was getting to the end and out of the boat. Fast forward two months and whilst I really enjoyed 12km Wednesday night double sessions with Wendy, I thought the HCC was for slightly mental people. Anyone who could want to do that distance, single discipline, on flat water, all through the night? Well the vortex of LCRK HCC emails and enthusiasm, and then the idea of a K4 finally sucked me in.

Above: The K4 crew in their pre-race team hug!

Getting a K4 to the start line is no easy feat and would have been a recipe for stress, tension and failure if it were not for Anjie and Clay. They put in an amazing effort in the 10 weeks to get us there. The physical effort of managing the K4, logistics and 4 team members were demanding! The lead up felt like weekly masterclasses in technique, navigation and boat setup and maintenance. I was lucky to do this journey with such an inspiring group of women, each bringing balance to the boat:

Anjie – the powerhouse, the bracer, the leader, capable and selfless (there was no forward movement without Anjie)
Jana – the wise, the foodie, the carer, the consistent
Wendy – the determined, the battler, the juggler
Highlights of the night: the balmy enjoyable first 60km, chatting to Ruby, Clayton’s dry humour, Malcom’s massage, getting the tired giggles, the swims, Low Tide Pit stop cup of tea standing around the fire, seeing my Dad with tears in his eyes at the finish line and my mum’s lovingly prepared basket of goodies.

For those thinking of doing the same, here’s a recipe for a K4 HCC with three beginners:
1 x boss person (no more)
2 x super selfless amazing support crew
1 x K4 with seats, footplates, pumps
4 x comfortably aligned seats (cause of nightmares for me)
1 x supportive club
1 x team with same goal
Instructions: Mix all ingredients together, and bake for 10 weeks. Enjoy served with a balmy night, cup of tea and a few midnight swims.

Thank-you again to all who helped, including my husband and young girls – I can’t thank you enough for your enthusiasm, kindness and continuous support. Will I do it again? Hmm maybe, but it would be hard to beat this experience.

Above: Definitely the biggest smiles going through Pitt Town.

Jana Osvald:
It was really great to have a company of three other girls, and to have Anjie coaching from the back seat in particular. I came in as a ‘reserve’ and considered myself a weakest link, so I tried to prepare as best I could. I attended all the famils, all K4 training and the Myall Classic. That was only phase one! Then there was preparation for the day. The food…I am very fussy and generally I don’t eat anything if I can't see ingredients. So here is my HCC meal plan: oat porridge in the morning, protein shake on the way, a sardine pasta lunch with homemade protein balls and an avocado and vegemite (B12) sandwich an hour before race. Two bottles of ginger Kombucha before the race. For the race I decided to cook myself a thick lentil dhal with rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes – with all the spices. Savoury hot dhal worked really well with the other sweet things I had, like bananas, dates laced with coffee and cinnamon, and protein balls.

My meal plan was beneficial, but what I didn't expect was the pain from my hip that started before Sackville. I had to take three Nurofens. I think I tried to do some yoga stretches before the race and I over-did it...too much of the healthy stuff is not recommended!

Apart from a few flying rocks, the race was relatively uneventful until we started to get lost with the night settling in. The blue line of the GPS led us directly into trees. Luckily Kerrie who has really good eyes spotted them just in time and we were able to stop the ‘freight train’. But the night was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves. Somewhere before Wiseman's, Wendy started to feel unwell, but she kept paddling. Anjie persisted with her consistent instructions BOOBS TO THE BANK and LEFT RIGHT and TIMING!! A lot of bracing on her part got us to Wiseman's ramp. After a long break induced by stuck ferries, we set off again. After about an hour it became obvious that Wendy did not feel well – so we fell in. And yes there was a sympathy spew. The remount worked brilliantly! However this is where my meal plan didn't work, as all my food was ruined. The low tide pit stop came in handy and there was Elke with wonderful cakes, of which I ate four, and a hot cup of tea. We continued with Wendy insisting she was OK. Really she wasn't, but she paddled like a mad bulldog into the storm, the K4 flexed and wobbled, Anjie was constantly bracing, Kerrie yelling instructions passed on from Anjie and I was just digging my feet into the footplates trying to keep balance and KEEP PADDLING. DO NOT STOP KEEP PADDLING. I think Kerrie asked kindly could we stop and readjust, the answer was NO, but she got what she asked for very soon. Somewhere near Bar Point we had another swim, remounted this time with some help of TAS paddlers and kept paddling until the end. I think the finish is same for everybody, you see the bridge and the ramp but it feels like the goal post is being constantly moved away from you. We made it.

Will I do it again? Possibly in a double, I understand the addiction.

Above: Wendy, Jana and Kerrie warming up at Wiseman's

Anjie Lees:
The start of our race went to plan with Ruby wash-riding to Sackville. The hold up with the ferry at Wiseman's was like a blessing in disguise (at first I was worried they were going to stop the race there). Wendy was not well and I was worried she might have wanted to pull out – she is just such a trooper. Between Cumberland Reach and Lower Portland the Garmin screen stopped working – it was saying to go straight ahead and the trees were very close. We had to 'back the bus up' and following green cyalumes until the Garmin restarted. Our first deep water re-entry, doesn’t look so deep (or dark) on the map. We all had to stop giggling once we fell in to execute the well oiled re-entry plan.

The guys at low tide pit stop were listening to our interesting conversation about bras (please don’t ask my position on life jackets and re-entering a boat) and called us over. It took us a bit of maneuvering to get in to the tiny boat ramp. I have always had the 'paddle through' (choosing not to get out of the boat in the mud) option at low tide pit stop but stopping was just the best getting out having a hot drink and something sweet by the fire not to mention catching up with Elke. We almost dried out instantly (aka someone might have nearly got burnt).

Kerrie wanted to stop and for us all to have a little break at O and I firmly said “No” as I was finding it challenging to keep the boat upright when 1 stopped paddling let alone all 4 of us. Kerrie just soldiered on and accepted my response.

We went in for a swim just after bar point, and I must admit I was a little concerned how we would go with a deep water re-entry in the rougher conditions, as well as fatigue. Along came our knights in shining armour – Angus and Jack from The Armidale School (TAS) in the most beautiful Mirage 730 I have ever seen. They asked if we were OK and I asked if they minded rafting up to help us get back in. I swam to the front of the boat and pulled them alongside ours. I climbed in first, then Jana and Wendy and lastly Kerrie, the boys offered to paddle with us to the finish however we were now facing upstream and had a large turning circle to face the right way and head for the finish.

Above: The crew gets back into the boat at Wiseman's.

It was just the best to be cheered at the finish by many LCRK paddlers who had waited to see us finish. We were lucky we were probably one of the last boats through before they stopped the race at Spencer. As a team we worked really well together and Kerrie had said along the way there is definitely “no princesses in this boat” – there were no complaints from anyone and we all just dug in and paddled. I have now completed six Classics, and Wendy, Kerrie and Jana have completed their first. We achieved our goal of finishing this year as well as setting a record in the Ladies Vet 40 K4. I think I have swum in every one except my first.

All of this would not have been possible if it was not for the club and its members – it has taken quite a bit of work to get the boat up to spec to complete the HCC, from footplates thanks to Tony and footstraps and pumps from Matt Blundell, new seats from Don Andrews, some fiberglass repairs and flotation. Our team was four ladies, two with young children and families as well as overseas and interstate work commitments. I had an overseas wedding,. It meant lots of times we had a seat to be filled, and many people stepped up and filled in for us. Jana was the only one who made it to every single training session – you could always count on Jana. All I can say is what an awesome club to be a part of.

I definitely can’t forget Clay in all of this, he drove the trailer for each famil, helping shuttle all the boats from the end of the famil to the start to make logistics simpler for everyone. On the day attended to us making sure that not just I had what I needed but that we all did.

...So what could be a bigger challenge for next year?