Event adapts to lower levels
IN its 44th year, Avon Descent organisers are looking to embrace lower water levels by rebranding the river race as a tough “hell or high water” event.
Organisers gathered at Burswood last week to announce their plan to secure the future of the 124km river race in the face of lower water levels and falling competitor numbers. The new approach envisages a tougher event where competitors dragging their vessels through the shallows is all part of the challenge.
Northam Avon Descent Association chairman Kim Epton said he was committed to preserving and growing the iconic river marathon for paddle and power boats.
“The fact is that the Avon Descent is often not a true whitewater event and if this is the reality we are dealing with, we need to change our thinking,” he said.
“Of course we won’t give in, but we have to face facts and if the way we tackle this event has to change to guarantee its future, then we feel we have a responsibility to make it happen.
“The ‘hell or high water’ approach does not mean we can carry on regardless, but it demonstrates our intent to put on an event even in the toughest of conditions if necessary.”
Mr Epton said the new approach could turn away some long-term competitors but hoped it would attract a new demographic of participants.
“Perhaps sometimes it will be more like an ironman challenge, even for the power boat crews,” he said.