Avon tes­ta­ment to the power of two

The Advocate (Perth) - - SPORT -

THERE is an old adage: If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go to­gether.

Power dinghy racer Matthew Even (30), of Ma­hogany Creek, and his race part­ner Nick Gard­ner went far to­gether to se­cure sec­ond place in last year’s Avon De­scent in the 10 HP sports cat­e­gory.

“We ended up us­ing a pro­pel­ler on day 2, which we hadn’t tri­alled prop­erly and was in­cor­rect for the con­di­tions,” Matt said. “Ba­si­cally, we ran out of time be­fore the race to get props sorted and per­form­ing how we wanted them to.”

His interest in the sport grew af­ter see­ing high­lights of the race on tele­vi­sion as a kid; he knew it was some­thing he had to do one day.

But it was only when he started work­ing with John Good­body and Scott Good­body that his child­hood dream came true. They mo­ti­vated and helped him get started, guid­ing him in the right direction.

John was an Avon vet­eran and Scott, a su­per com­pet­i­tive racer in the sports class. In fact, Matt raced an old boat he was given by John Good­body in his first Avon race.

When Matt de­cided to form a team, the in­evitable part­ner was Nick Gard­ner.

“Nick is my best mate who I have known since I was 12. We have grown up to­gether and spent so much time to­gether over the years that some­times I think he knows me bet­ter than my mum does.

“He knows ex­actly what I am think­ing most of the time, which is ex­tremely help­ful in an Avon boat, as you don’t get a lot of time to dis­cuss things while racing.”

Although Matt’s fam­ily is not in­volved ac­tively in the sport, they have been his sup­port sys­tem. Matt is also a ship­mas­ter (cap­tain).

“My fam­ily is com­prised of my mum Dei­dre, my dad Al­wyn and my sib­lings Alysha and Luke,” he said.

“I am the first in my fam­ily to race the Avon. I have com­pleted other races in our boa­trac­ing cal­en­dar with both my brother and sis­ter at times when Nick has been away.

“My brother Luke also puts in a mas­sive amount of work for us in the de­vel­op­ment and fab­ri­ca­tion of boat com­po­nents and equip­ment.”

Chal­lenges abound in white wa­ter racing. Matt faced one of the worst ac­ci­dents dur­ing the Black­wood Clas­sic 250 in 2012, a three -day time trial down the Black­wood river.

“We jumped a large log and as we came down and landed, our boat flipped up­side down and washed un­der the next group of large logs. The flow of wa­ter was very strong mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to drag it out back up­river.

“Even­tu­ally, we man­aged to dive down and slowly free it by mov­ing it side­ways and mak­ing our way through a maze of tree branches.

“We were def­i­nitely glad to see the fin­ish line on this day.”

Matt said pad­dling was es­sen­tial to keep fit be­fore the race and to be­come familiar with the route and ob­sta­cles.

“Power dinghy racing is ex­tremely chal­leng­ing be­cause you need to have ev­ery­thing right to win.

“First, you need to build a boat that is fast and ca­pa­ble.

“You need to look at your mo­tor and pro­pel­lers for all dif­fer­ent wa­ter lev­els that you may en­counter on race day and you need to know the river and all its ob­sta­cles in­side out.

“Fi­nally, you and your team mem­ber need to piece it all to­gether on the day and try not to make mis­takes and achieve what you have prac­tised.”

Matt and Nick will com­pete in Matt’s sev­enth Avon De­scent on Au­gust 5 and 6, from Northam to Bayswa­ter. En­tries for the 2017 Avon De­scent and details of the race are on­line at avon­de­s­cent.com.au. their maiden For­est Rally vic­tory. Reign­ing ARC cham­pi­ons Molly Tay­lor, from Syd­ney, and Bill Hayes, of Maida Vale (pic­tured), will be look­ing to record their maiden vic­tory over West af­ter tak­ing Heat One hon­ours at the event in 2016 be­fore fin­ish­ing on Sun­day in fourth place.

For­mer ARC cham­pi­ons Eli Evans, of Vic­to­ria, and Queens­lan­der Glen We­ston will be be­hind the wheel of a Mini Cooper AP4, mak­ing its de­but in the for­est.

Nathan Quinn and East Vic­to­ria Park co-driver Ben Searcy, re­turn from NSW for the first time in 10 years, while Tas­ma­nian-Vic­to­rian duo Mar­cus and Scott Walkem will do the For­est Rally for the first time.

Matt Even and Nick Gard­ner share a thrill for white wa­ter.

Matt Even and Nick Gard­ner.

Pic­ture: Michael Vet­tas

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