Avon Descent Legends and Freeman Recognition

Avon Descent Freemen

A nominee for ‘Freeman of NADA’ must have 10 years exceptional service to the Association at a suitably high level.

Avon Descent Legends

In 2012, the 40th anniversary of the Avon Descent, the NADA Board Sanctioned the creation of a special recognition for individuals who have contributed to the event at an exceptional level over many years, to be known as the Avon Descent Legends.

Avon Descent Legends Nominations

Gerry Post is the missing link in the list of LEGENDS of the Avon Descent.

Gerry was involved with the preliminary power boat run down the Avon & Swan Rivers in 1972 with John Izzard, Rob Leslie and Ron Bairstow which although not intentionally, proved the viability for the creation of the Avon Descent.

Gerry became involved in the Avon Descent in 1974 and was appointed Deputy Race Director in 1975 assisting Jim Paine. Gerry took over the role as Race Director in 1985 on the retirement of Jim Paine. Gerry was also Chairman of the Race Committee.He was a driving force in the organisation of the event over many years. He encouraged many volunteer participants and groups.

He has been involved in the event in a voluntary capacity continuously from 1974 to the present day. He was appointed as a FREEMAN of the Descent in recognition of his services to the event but was omitted from the initial selection of LEGENDS in 1982.

Jay Branson started racing in the Avon Descent in 1993 at the age of 17 years and since that time he has completed 24 events. Jay Branson has served on the NADA Board of Directors since 2009.
He is the PDRC’s delegate on the WARSWA Board.
Over many years Jay has served the Power Dinghy Racing Club many times as Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore and Scrutineer.
During this same period he has organised, promoted and directed a number of races
including the Sunnyside Sprint and The River Race.
Since his involvement in power dinghy racer, Jay has helped more than 20 teams start racing. In
2015, with another, he commenced the introduction of modular plastic racing boats that will allow
people start racing easier and cheaper.

Jay has made considerable efforts to bring power and paddle closer together by arranging paddling sessions between the two disciplines.
He has arranged for the ADSU to attend PDRC events to forge a closer understanding and cooperation between the two groups.
PDRC delegate to NADA WARSWA.
Jay has competed in 23 Blackwood Classics and won eight. He has competed in 20 Nannup Cups and won seven.

Kevin Harrison was appointed to the position of Chairman of NADA in 1998 after the Management Committee decided that a new direction was needed to revitalise the Event. He served in this position until 2015 – a period of 18 years.

Kevin had a background as Chairman and CEO of Tourism WA, Chairman of Eventscorp, Managing Director of an Australia wide hotel chain, and Vice President of an international accommodation chain.

Kevin changed the management structure and the way the Avon Descent was organised. His passion for, and professional approach to the Event, particularly in the area of sponsorship, has been outstanding.

The Event flourished under Kevin’s leadership with funding and sponsorship from government departments as well as the corporate sector.

After Kevin stepped down as Chairman he continued to manage sponsorships for the new Board for the 2016 Event.

The Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Kevin Harrison is indeed a true Legend of the Avon Descent.

Terry has been involved in the Avon Descent for 38 years as a competitor, trainer, assessor, and mentor – and, for many years,  as a sponsor of the Event.

He has competed in 26 Avon Descents as a paddler and over that time has scored numerous place wins in a variety of craft and notched up several top 10 placings.

Terry has written six adventure books, been commissioned by the NT Canoe Association to train their instructors, and been commissioned by Malaysian authorities to train their river rescue teams.

Terry Bolland has had and continues to have an enormous impact on the Avon Descent.

He has encouraged literally thousands of paddlers over many years to participate in the Descent.  He motivates people by taking the time to talk to them  and answer questions that they have when first taking up kayaking; he encourages them to consider taking part in the Avon Descent.

His encouragement, training, education and mentoring of competitors in the Descent over many years, his publicising and support of the Event over many years, and his dedication and participation record over many years truly make Terry Bolland a worthy LEGEND OF THE AVON DESCENT.

Kim Epton has been selected to be a Legend of the Avon Descent.

Kim has had a long association with both the sport of Power Dinghy Racing and the Avon Descent. He has strongly promoted both over many years and continues to be a worthy ambassador for both.

Kim was a founding member of the Power Dinghy Racing Club (PDRC). He was directly responsible for the creation of three major power dinghy races in Western Australia, leading to the PDRC being the power craft club representative for the Avon Descent.

Kim’s commitment to power dinghy participation has been demonstrated by his continuous involvement in the Avon Descent for 40 years as either a member of the NADA Board, an official, a competitor or in a support crew. His role at the time of receiving Legend status was Deputy Race Director-Power and Starter for  Power Craft on Day 2.

Kim has demonstrated a positive and lasting effect on many aspects of power dinghy racing and the Avon Descent over many years.

Kim Epton you deserve to be recognised as a Legend of the Avon Descent.

Greg Kaeding has been selected to be a Legend of the Avon Descent.

Greg has had a long and distinguished involvement in the sport of canoeing at the local, state, national and interstate levels. He has been an office bearer at each level. Of significance has been his responsibility for high performance in canoeing, both for Western Australia and Australia, from 1976 to 2000.  He was President of Canoeing Australia from 1999 to 2006.

Greg has also had a long and distinguished involvement with the Avon Descent, having only missed the first event. He was a competitor for 10 years, from 1974 to 1983; a 3 times winner with Ray Holt in the K2 category in the years 1980, 81 and 83. In the years following, Greg has been involved in every event, as a starter, start and finish line coordinator, timekeeper, scrutineer and as a commentator. As timekeeper Greg introduced electronic timekeeping and the computerisation of results and records.

Greg has demonstrated a positive and lasting effect on many aspects of paddle craft competition and has been a worthy ambassador for the Avon Descent.

Greg Kaeding you deserve to be recognised as a Legend of the Avon Descent.

Ian Williamson, sadly, passed away suddenly in April 2016, while he was working hard on planning another Avon Descent. He was selected to be an Inaugural Legend of the Avon Descent.

Ian was a long serving member of the Power Dinghy Racing Club.  He held many office bearer positions and was the Club Commodore in 2002/03.

Ian unselfishly gave of his time to the development of the sport of power dingy in Western Australia.  His advice, assistance and encouragement was well known.

Ian successfully competed in thirty two (32) Avon Descents,  achieving a top three (3) finish on thirteen (13) occasions, and with his son Todd, as a father and son racing team, they were the holders of the course record in the ten (10) HP Sport category.  Ian competed in the Murray River Marathon and was active in encouraging overseas and Interstate participation.

Ian’s 12 years of management service for the Avon Descent had a strong focus on research, experimentation and development.  He was a contributor to the evolution in power dinghy design, was instrumental in upgrading the chute at the Northam Weir and his initiative led to the experimentation with the Vinidex tubes at Extracts Weir.

Ian Williamson, deservedly qualifies to be recognised as a Foundation Member of the Avon Descent Legends, may he rest in peace and in the knowledge that the race goes forward from strength to strength.

Number of Years of Participation

  1. 30 events as a competitor
  2. Assisted with grid allocation for 10 years
  3. Three years Board Member CWA
  4. Two years Board Member NADA

Level of Achievement

  1. Had held singles record since 1983 , which was only broken by Barry Lewin in 2008. Still holds the doubles record which is still standing from 1996.
  2. Assisted with the grid allocation
  3. Integral part of the scruitineering process for paddle craft for ten years
  4. Darryl’s many years of paddling and long history in the paddling community and club involvement in WA has been invaluable to CWA since he has come onto the Board
  5. Darryl was involved with getting the Avon Descent put onto the International Marathon Series
    1. Has competed in overseas World Championships four times for white-water racing
    2. Has competed interstate for white water 25 times and marathon once Competed in every National Championship in white water and marathon that has been held in WA.

Initiatives, Developments and Impact Made

  1. Introduced light weight kayaks to the Avon Descent
  2. Assisted in arranging the vinedex pipes at Extracts Weir when he was involved in the PDRC (when he did two years of power boats)
  3. Has coached many winners of all classes in the paddle category of the Avon Descent

Ambassadorial roles / Presentations

  1. Participated in the Fish Marathon in 2011 and came second in doubles in the veteran class and thirty third overall.
  2. Made a presentation and answered questions in regards to the AD on the opening night of the Fish Marathon.
  3. Has given many information lectures at club level for AKC where he has been a member for thirty years
  4. Always happy to have a chat and give any advice to new members and aspiring Avon Descent competitors
  5. Has taken groups for white water trips and ti tree runs to familiarise them with the valley and ti trees when paddlers are first starting out with their white water training for the Avon Descent

Other Recognition

  1. Received a twenty five year jacket for participation from NADA
  2. Ian Diffen Sportstar Award 1990
  3. CWA award for winning ten (10) Avon Descents
  4. National Team Awards for representing Australia overseas

Neil Long has been selected to be an Inaugural Legend of the Avon Descent.

Neil has had a thirty (30) year involvement with the sport of canoeing.  He has competed in many National White Water Championships and has represented Australia at White Water World Championships on four  occasions.  Neil has always been a strong club member, undertaking significant tasks that have contributed to the high success of his club.  Among his outstanding contributions have been the running of intermediate courses for club members and managing the white water discipline committee.  He has also coached many paddlers to state and national levels in white water paddling.

Neil has been either a competitor or an official for twenty five (25) Avon Descents.  He has won several Avon Descents in different categories such as under eighteen (18) male, mixed double kayaks and open double kayaks.

Neil has been many things to the Avon Descent.  He has been and still continues to be a canoe controller, an announcer, a master of ceremonies, a spokesperson and is a past member of the Avon Descent Board.

Neil has been a great ambassador for the Avon Descent and has inspired many men and women to participate in the event.

Neil Long,  in recognition of your contributions to the Avon Descent, you deservedly qualify to become a Foundation Member of the Avon Descent Legends.

Jim Smith has been selected to be an Inaugural Legend of the Avon Descent.

Jim  has been associated with the Avon Descent for thirty eight (38) years.  His initial involvement, as a member of the Northam Lions Club, was the creation and manning of check points.

In 1975 overnight camping was introduced, first at Northam and then at the Western Quarries site in West Toodyay with Jim undertaking management responsibility.

With Jim’s increasing knowledge of the river environment, he was appointed in the Deputy Race Director in 1998 and then in 2000 Race Director,  a position he has carried out with distinction to this day.

Jim Smith was also responsible for the early management and development of rescue and recovery functions, a task currently carried out by the Avon Support Unit.

He has also played a major role in the development of the race rules and by-laws, and of the management of emergency practices and policies.  He has developed a close relationship and regular liaison with all of the property owners along the river.  He has been the quintessential ambassador for the event and has regular contact with the media.

Jim Smith, you have previously been recognised for your contribution with the award of Life Membership of Northam’s Avon Descent  Association as a Freeman.  In further recognition of your service to the Avon Descent, you deservedly qualify to be selected as a Foundation Member of the Avon Descent Legends.

Rex Adams has been selected to be an Inaugural Legend of the Avon Descent.

Rex Adams was a member of the management committee for the inaugural event held in 1973.

From inaugural Secretary / Treasurer to the current manager of financial resources Rex has the singular distinction of continuous service, and, like the event itself, 2012 represents the fortieth (40) anniversary of Rex’s outstanding commitment.

Rex has participated both as a paddler and as support crew in the event, his motivation being that firsthand experience is a desirable trait for successful event management.

One of Rex’s strengths has been his astute management of the Avon Descent’s financial resources, particularly during the lean financial years, playing a key role to the sustainability of the Avon Descent and its recognition as one of the Western Australia’s iconic events.  His background in Local Government has helped break through and expedite decisions at all levels of government.

Rex has displayed an unequaled commitment to the Avon Descent and has been recognised with the award of a “Freeman” Life Membership of Northam’s Avon Descent Association.

Rex Adams, in further recognition of your commitment to the Avon Descent, you deservedly qualify to be recognised as a Foundation Member of the Avon Descent Legends.

John King OAM has been selected to be an Inaugural Legend of the Avon Descent.

For his contribution to Surf Lifesaving, both at state and national levels, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal

John has also made an outstanding contribution to the Avon Descent.  His thirty nine (39) year continuous association (he did not know about the inaugural 1973 event) has been as follows:

  • Fifteen (15) years service on the rules committee
  • Thirty (30) years service as a scrutineer for the ski and sundry classes
  • Twenty five (25) years as a competitor
  • Eleven (11) years as ground crew support

John was instrumental in introducing surf skis to the Avon Descent.  He made most of his own fibreglass skis and helped many others to make or repair theirs, including repairs to fibreglass power craft.  His developmental skills included the flip up rudder he pioneered for the long surf ski class.

John has demonstrated a very strong passion to surf ski, be it on the ocean or the Avon Descent.  It could be claimed that the current strong representation in the Avon Descent by ski paddle craft is due to John’s encouragement and ambassadorial efforts.

John King, in recognition of your contributions to the development and sustainability of the Avon Descent, you deservedly qualify to become a Foundation Member of the Avon Descent Legends.

Selection criteria

The Board has determined the procedure for nomination and the selection criteria to elevate a person to the status of Legend of the Avon Descent.

  1. An independent Selection Panel may annually select up to two persons for elevation to Legend of the Avon Descent status.
  2. The Selection Panel shall comprise the Chairman of the Board, and three other persons selected from:
    • Freemen;
    • Past or present Board Members;
    • Retired competitors who have completed 20 or more events.
  3. The Selection Panel shall have the power to interview Nominees, and/or nominators as well as seek advice from other parties as and when deemed necessary.

-Number of years of participation in the Avon Descent as:

  • a competitor;
  • a support person for the event (not support for a competitor/s);
  • a member of the executive/management of a canoeing club, surf lifesaving club, power dinghy racing club or other organisation supplying competitors to the Avon Descent;
  1. a member of the NADA Board.
  2. Level of achievement or nature of tasks undertaken as:
    • a competitor;
    • a support person for the event (not support for a competitor/s);
    • a member of the executive/management of a canoeing club, surf lifesaving club, power dinghy racing club or other organisation supplying competitors to the Avon Descent;
    • a member of the NADA Board.
    • an interstate and/or international representative.
  3. Initiatives / Developments, if any, attributed to the Nominee and subsequently brought to and/or used in any part of the event.
  4. Any ambassadorial / public presentation / promotion/s made by the Nominee on behalf of the Avon Descent.
  1. Integrity, sportsmanship and character will be a consideration for any Nominee to Legend of the Avon Descent status.
  2. A secondary party will be required to attest to these qualities on behalf of a Nominee if called upon by the Selection Panel.
  1. All nominations will remain on a ‘live’ listing for inclusion in future years’ selection deliberations.
  2. Nominators will be able to update a Nominee’s details, as necessary.
  3. The announcement of any new inductees to Legend of the Avon Descent status will be made at an event function.