“Close-Up” Interviews with Significant Avon Participants:
Kerry Barden, Powerboat, getting ready for 23rd race
The Barden family’s long association with the Avon Descent typifies the spirit of community that has sustained the event for much of its history.
Kerry Barden’s initial involvement also followed a familiar pattern, drawn into having a go after seeing husband Brent’s enthusiasm for the power dinghies.
The Avon experience for Kerry started in 1994 and has remained unbroken since then– 22 events and counting.
“Back then, the fibreglass dinghies were unforgiving and flipped pretty easily, especially when you hit someone else’s wake,” recalled Kerry.
“My first race was not with Brent, but with then Keith Brooker [subsequently PDRC Commodore]. I think we actually flipped while milling prior to the start,” she said.
Kerry believes she was one of only three females competing in power boats at that stage, but said the other ladies really helped her to settle in.
Since then, she and Brent have forged an extremely reliable partnership, scoring a second and a number of third places in the 8hp and 10hp categories.
The family tradition, so evident in the river classic, has seen Kerry and Brent’s children and other family members line up for that first Saturday in August.
Away from the river, Kerry has also put a great deal into the Avon Descent, taking the reins of the PDRC as Commodore for a total of five years.
The hair salon operator says her business training has been an advantage in helping to run the sport, which faced many challenges from a landscape crowded with outdoor and adventure options.
“Once upon a time, the Avon was it, but now there are plenty of other options and we have to be clever about finding the people who will become the competitors of the future and keep the event alive,” said Kerry.
And the future for Kerry? “Well, this year will be my 23rd and if everything goes well I will aim to become the first female to receive a 25 year jacket. I reckon that would probably be about enough by then.”