The blisters and muscle fatigue may last a few days, but for 55 paddlers who made up The Armidale School’s team, there will be memories to last a lifetime from this year’s Hawkesbury Canoe Classic on 28-29 October.
As always, the grueling 111km overnight event, from Windsor to Brooklyn Bridge has its challenges, this year paddlers battling a strong incoming tide during the ‘graveyard’ shift in the early hours before dawn. However the warm and windless evening provided for excellent conditions overall, with faster times generally recorded.
First home for TAS was current parent and Old Boy Duncan McDonald who powered a single kayak with determination, in a time of 11 hours, 11 minutes and 45 seconds. Just over two hours later, Hannah Van Roy was the first TAS student across the line in 13:21:04, paddling with her father Peter who was competing his sixth Hawkesbury.
“It was a long day before we got on the water at four o’clock and I was a bit nervous, even though we had both completed both the Myall Classic and a long practice paddle at Grafton,” she said.
“The hardest part was the last ten kilometres which was pretty tough. It was very special being able to do it with Dad, and it was just great the TAS community cheered everyone into the checkpoints.”
The next three places were also parent/student combinations, with Richard Marshall from Burren Junction and son Sam finishing in 13:40:56, Geoff and Katie Allen 14:30:13, then Tim and Henry Hughes in 14:48:16. Twenty minutes later, Ben Louis and Nicholas Makeham crossed the line together with Dan Lethbridge and James Wicks, as the first all-student teams to finish. All boats crossed the line, with just two students unable to complete the full 111km.
This year is the 41st Hawkesbury, and the 37th consecutive event for TAS, which first entered two paddlers in 1981. The team which included 32 TAS boys and girls, six girls from NEGS and PLC, six parents and four former students, was supported by a a land crew of almost as many parents and staff who assisted them through the night. The event is a major fundraiser for the Arrow Bone Marrow Foundation, and over the decades TAS paddlers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cause.
To view a gallery of photos from this year’s Classic, click on any of the images below.