2016 Westlakes Classic

Sunday 14th May was the Westlakes Classic – which is another good lead-up event to the RPM.

The Classic consists of a choice of 3 events – 6, 12 or 18km on Westlakes.

Conditions were pretty good, with temperature in the high teens and the wind around the 15km/h mark from the S/W.

As usual there was a reasonable number of boats on the water – and this alone makes for a good bit of practice – in terms of a start and also in terms of dealing with the wash.

It was a bit much for some and a couple of other paddlers took an unscheduled swim within the first 500M for just that reason.

I have been trying to solve the issues with my seating (again) and yesterday managed the whole 2 hours in the boat without any issues – so looking good in readiness for the RPM in only 4 weeks time,

Not sure of the actual time, but I completed the 18km in about  2h 4m or so at an avg speed of 8.7km/h

I have my eye on a record in the RPM and this time puts me within  reach of it!

2016 B2B

That is Back 2 Back, not Border2Beach!

This weekend just gone was the Back2Back a 2 day event that leads up to the RPM.

The Weather was not brilliant with fairly strong winds – yeah Saturday saw us battle winds up to about 45km/h – not so bad when it is at your back, but not so much fun in your face!

This year, on the Sunday we moved from our usual location at Murray Bridge up to Mannum and ran day 2 in conjunction with the Paddlefest. We were hoping for better conditions, but they were similar! not quite as strong, but still 30+km/h winds to deal with.

All in all, a fun weekend out paddling!

2014 HCC

First, a big thanks to all the supporters and sponsors, with your help. this year we contributed $390 to the overall fund-raising efforts.

The trip over set the tone for the whole event and well, it wasn’t great!  We got around 400km from home and had to turn around and come back and swap cars – yep, 900+km and a lost day driving was not a good start.

Onto Saturday, as per usual, I didn’t sleep too well and only managed about 6 hours the night before, so it was going to be a long event!  Saturday, saw a high temperature with around 33deg at the start and a prediction for about 14 overnight – which is quite hot for paddling.  Knowing full well how the heat can affect me, I decided to not put on my wetsuit pants (or even my spray deck for that matter) for the first leg.

(Stephen) Sandra, Dad and Me, just before the start

(Stephen) Sandra, Dad and Me, just before the start


Ready to get on the water

Ready to get on the water

This year, due to the tides, I decided to do the BorB and had a 4pm start.  As we were on the water waiting for the start Brad pulled out his phone and snapped this picture.

Just before the start

Just before the start


Sandra, Dad any myself on the water just before the start.

Sandra, Dad any myself on the water just before the start.

Taking it quite easy for the first 10-15 minutes was something that I knew I needed to do so that I didn’t suffer from the heat.  I held back and kept my speed down and once I had settled down and got into it.  Once I started moving, my avg speed just kept creeping higher and higher – this was attributed to the tide. As usual, I had an APRS tracker on the boat, but this time, it was just not being heard and only reported a couple of times near the start and once about 40 minutes later.

About an hour after the start, there was someone coming up behind me and making a lot of noise.  When I turned and looked, it was Rod Clarke on his Outrigger just flying past, way faster than me.   Not long after that a C4 with a LRec double went past, I managed to climb on behind them for about 500M – but they were just too fast for me!.

Just before Catti (checkpoint A), I had someone climb on behind me and stay there until just before Sackville – yep, they got a free ride for about 20km!

It was about 1km from Sackville when I hit the change in the tide – I noticed a lot of very large whirlpools everywhere across the river and that is all it could have been – the in and out flows meeting.

Arriving at Sackville at 19:13, I noted that my avg speed hit 8.8km/h as I pulled in.  I was well and truly in front of my planned arrival time of 19:37!  I did a quick prep – eat and drink, pulled on my wetsuit pants, put on my spray deck as it was just starting to get a bit cooler.

I jumped back in the boat to get going just as Dad and Sandra were arriving, organized myself and was getting set when disaster struck.  I pushed against my foot pegs and snap!  the left one gave way.  So, pulled back into the shore, tied up the rudder as I would not have any steering, and got set again.  I took a couple of strokes and almost went out – there was just no way I could paddle with only 1 foot to push and drive with – I simply had no power or balance, so the race was over for me.

Speed plot

Speed plot

I knew that I had been pushing along at a decent pace with the tidal assistance, but it was not until I pulled the plot that I could see how well I was going!

Start (Orange Dot) to Sackville where my race ended this year.

Start (Orange Dot) to Sackville where my race ended this year.

With a broken boat I had no choice but to withdraw, my race was over almost before it begun.  It was about this time that I wished that I had  brought the other boat, but them’s the breaks, and this time it was my boat.  Now what was I saying about retro-fitting a full foot-plate in this boat – well, now it is something that I have to do before I can get it back on the water!

can you spot the broken bit?

can you spot the broken bit?

You can see that the right footrest is intact, and the left one that broke off is sitting just above the rail.

Yeah, it was a bit disappointing to not be able to complete the whole 111km, but there is always next year!

Yea, almost forgot, Congrats to Dad, finishing his 3rd HCC a few minutes faster than his last time, and to Sandra, who paddled with Dad completing her very first Marathon event.

2014 RPM

All done and dusted!

Before I dive in on the details, I just wanted to review my actual training that got me here.

I did write up a complete training schedule and it was a useful guide.  I was 1 week late starting, and I only managed about 4 or 5 cardio sessions in total.  I did manage to get in 2 paddling sessions a week for all but 3 weeks, 1 planned, 2 when life got in the way.  I never actually paddled more than 22km in a single training session this year, but most weeks did a 17km and a 22km session.  I was not feeling too confident before I started, but as soon as I crossed the line on day 1 I was 100% there and ready to go.

Wow, what a weekend!  Again, we were blessed with near perfect paddling conditions – especially for the middle of winter in the Riverlands!  I think it was even better than last year.

Friday Night arriving in the Riverlands after last minute preparations was a pretty exciting moment – as one of the paddlers coming from Sydney was able to bring my new boat with them – Thanks Angie!  More to follow in the next few weeks.

Anyway, onto the gory details

Day 1

This year, due to lock 4 being closed the event Started at Loxton, and we did approx 19km upstream, before turning and continuing down the river to finish at Moorook.

What a luxury! Staying in Loxton meant that I got a sleep-in – a nice easy 05:15 alarm.

We arrived, and commenced setting up at around 06:00am and all ready for the 6:45am start.  Well, We had it all!  Temperature at the start was around 3 deg, and a light fog kept visibility down to around 100M or so – both a blessing and a curse!  Blessing – nobody else was (stupid enough to be) on the river, but it made keeping an eye on things a little difficult.

The fog slowly cleared over the first hour or so, only to be faced with yes, a slight flow against us until we turned around the buoy to come back downstream.

Once we turned, we were into a light 10-15km/h headwind, then, Yes, a light drizzling rain for about an hour, and finally, by the time I arrived back at Loxton, things started looking up.

I had a scheduled 5 minute lunch-break – A Drink of Milo, a cheese and vegemite roll, top up the water and back into the boat for the next 37km to finish.

Well, the afternoon actually saw the wind pick up to about 20km/h, but this time, it was predominately from behind us! a few smallish sections where it was a head-wind, but not for too far.

Total time for the day was 06:46 – 15:50 (approx) with a moving avg speed of 8.3km/h


Pretty obvious that the turning buoy was around the 20km mark! and the flow was actually about 0.5km/h – but only affected us for about 5-6km.  38km was lunch-time.  The pause just short of 60km was a small section into the wind, then I got confused and almost turned the wrong way into Pyap Lagoon, but remembered to Follow the sun to the finish!

Day 1 near New Residence

Passing New Residence with about 11km to go on day 1

Day 1 Map

The Orange dot was the start then up and back past the start to the finish.

Day 2

Unlike day 1, it was an 04:00am alarm, because the drive from Morgan to the Start is just over an hour’s drive away. I was able to do some of my prep whilst we were travelling – out with the Coban and taped up my hands.  I had a couple of minor blisters from day 1 and didn’t want them to get any worse!  Arrived just after 06:00 and started getting organized and ready for another day’s paddling.with a 06:45 start.

The temperature was really quite surprising – and around the 4 deg mark – our race director commented that in the last 17 years it had never been this warm for a day 2 start!

Headed off down to lock 3 and had a small break at the lock whilst waiting for everyone to arrive.  As soon as the last boat arrived we were given a 5-minute call to assemble and prepare to go thru the lock. Arrived just before 09:00 and we left around 35 minutes later.

Like the previous day, the wind picked up by this time to about 20km/h, but again as luck would have it – mostly from behind.

Was having a very nice day of it when disaster struck! about 6km out from the lock, I broke something with my rudder – and suddenly turned and nearly hit another boat!  It was an interesting 16 or so km until I made it down to Devlin’s pound and my scheduled lunch stop.  As luck would have it, it was just the loop at the end of the rudder cable that broke and even more lucky, another boat that was stopped  had someone that was able to help me repair it and have a rudder.


Yep, rudder up, whilst making my way to Devlin’s – Loved this image that I have made it my banner on the blog for now!

I had actually done a lot of my training last year without my rudder and was thankful for putting in the effort. Only had a few short sections of the river where the wind was from an un-favorable direction and I had to do a few extra corrective strokes rather than going forward.

I had planned on a 5-6 minute lunch stop, but it ended up being nearly 20 by the time I got it repaired.

Back on the river, and this leg of the 200 is a “hard slog” -you just never seem to be getting anywhere until you get down to the cliffs about 8km out from the finish and you know you are nearly there.

Day 2 was 06:45 – 09:00, then 09:35 to 15:45  with a moving avg speed of 8.4km/h for the day.

Day 2 speed plot


The dip at 20km was the lock, the 42km dip was my lunch-break.  It took me a little while after fixing the rudder to get it adjusted right and I did struggle a little bit during the afternoon until the finish was in sight!

Day 2 Map


Day 3

Once again it was an early wake-up call – up just before 4am to get ready and drive the 35 minutes to the start line for a 06:00 start in the dark!

As I have come to expect, Monday Morning is always cold!  It was only just above 0 deg when we left.  The first 7 or 8km is in the dark, so I have no idea as to what the river looks like – I must get up there sometime and paddle it during the day!

Just as we started being able to see, it was a right turn itowards the rising sun just as you are greeted with the first light on the Ramco cliffs – a sight not missed by anyone!

Again, as last year, the temperature did drop considerable before sunrise and I would guess it was -2 or -3 before it warmed up. This year, it was fairly overcast and I didn’t have much of the sun shining directly in my face.  In no time at all I had arrived at the lock.around 08:20.  as I was aware of the conditions here, – deep water and only a very narrow ledge to get in and out on, I opted not to get out of the boat, but just waited the 20 minutes until everyone got there.

We were all in the lock chamber, they pulled the plug then underway just after 9am.  Just like the previous day,the wind picked up to about 15km/h, and again, predominantly from behind us!

From here it is a quick 12 or so km down to Hogwash bend and my planned lunch stop – which I did and was underway in about 6 or 7 minutes.

From here, you can almost smell the finish line! and as not all the boats had started from the 100, over the next hour there was a steady procession of faster paddlers going by.

Finally rounding the last bend with the Morgan pump station the finish is not far off, I crossed the line just after 2pm to finish my 2nd RPM 200 and set a new record!

Day 3 – 06:05 – 8:20 then 09:05 – 14:05 with an avg paddling speed of 8.6km/h for the day.

Day 3 speed plot

Dip at 20km was the lock, the 34km was lunch stop, Yes, a small bit with a strong headwind, and off again.  The other dips were simply me swapping my water tubes over and stopping for a snack!

Day 3 Map

Provisional results put my total time at 24:49:45 considerably better than last years time!

As I hinted above, Yes, once it is confirmed as the official time it will be a newly established race record as I entered into a class where there was no record – all I had to do was finish!

Now, I’ll take a week off paddling and as soon as I can, I’ll get the new boat in the water and work out where to put the seat.

During the Presentation at the finish I had the honor of being able to pass on the Most Outstanding Paddler trophy to the 2014 Recipient – Bill Robinson, who this year completed his 21st RPM 200.  I paddled and talked with Bill for at least a little while each day as well.

Once again, the rest of the committee conspired against me and presented the Volunteers trophy to Ray and Myself for our efforts in the last several months.  I keep saying, I don’t do it for the trophy, but because I love it, but the acknowledgement is appreciated none the less.

A huge thanks to Gary for kindly allowing me to make use of some of his photos of me on the river.


Westlakes Classic

Last weekend, the Westlakes Classic was on and This year, like last year, I opted to do the 12km course.

Post from last year

Conditions were not the best, with wind around 20km/h, but you deal with what it is on the day.

Unlike last year, I didn’t take anywhere near as long to finish – I did the 12km in 1:20:21 at 9km/h!  Well, lets face it, 12km v’s 208km, 12km is a sprint and I didn’t leave much in reserve.  Short events like this are good as they give you a reasonable indication of your flat-water paddling speed, and year to year, this shows me that my flat-water speed has improved (or my training this year has been reasonably effective).  Just like last year, I did jump back in the boat and put a few extra km of paddling in, did another 8km at a fairly steady 8.5km/h (told you the 12km was a sprint!)

Yes, a sprint speed does not realistically give me a marathon-pace speed, but if I do a direct comparison to last year, I should be a tad faster over the 208km (at least I hope I am) – I’ll know either way in 2 weeks time 🙂