Conditions perfect for rapid race
HIGH water levels made for a nearperfect weekend for the gruelling 125km Avon Descent.
More than 370 competitors took on the 45th annual whitewater race, with plenty of spills to challenge even the most seasoned participants.
Hundreds of spectators turned out in mostly mild and sunny conditions to cheer on competitors.
Jason Graham took out first place on the single kayaks, beating William Lee by 7 minutes.
Favourites in the power boats David North and Jay Branson did not disappoint, crossing the finish line in Bayswater first only 20 seconds in front of rivals Perrin Franks and Michael Prosser.
Experienced racer Branson almost missed this year’s race after a serious motorcycle crash left him with a fractured neck.
Former rivals Brendan Rice and Josh Kippin teamed up this year, taking out first position in front of Matthew Dean and James Morfitt, who took out first place on the double kayak, while favourite Darryl Long won the race on his single ski, which he built himself.
Avon Descent marketing manager Fran Diettrich said organisers could not have asked for a better event.
“It was a great event, with a very smooth run and lots of happy competitors and organisers,” she said.
“Water levels were nearly perfect. After all the rain the last few weeks, we had a perfect weekend up there with no rain and mostly sunny, which was perfect for competitors paddling through the beautiful valley.”
Ninja Warrior semi-finalist Paul Ranger took on the race, signing up for the challenge on his stand-up paddle board on Friday.
Ms Diettrich said Ranger’s performance was a highlight, with it being the first year SUPs were included in the race.
“We only added the SUP category this year and no one believed he would make it far, but he ended day one (52km) after 08:23:17, which was absolutely sensational and there were so many people who welcomed him with a massive applause,” she said.
Brendan Rice and Josh Kippin win the doubles and (inset) power boat winners Jay Branson and David North before crossing the finish line.