The complexities of the global finance market and a churning river in the Avon Valley are worlds apart, but Tom Hodgkinson has tamed them both.
Tom makes his living as a derivatives trader. He has made his name in the Avon Descent fraternity as a dedicated and talented power dinghy racer in boat number 001.
He is the reigning 10 hp Sport champion and also took the honours in 2013 and 2014. “The amount of preparation needed to compete for top spot in the power dinghies has been raised to another level over the past few years,” said Tom.
“It requires 12 months of planning and preparation and you must be dedicated to engineering a craft capable of winning then be committed to knowing every obstacle in detail over the full course of the race.”
Tom has fond memories of the 2002 event, a low water year, when his boat ran out of fuel 25 metres from the finish. “We paddled the boat across the line and were narrowly beaten into third place” he said.
Tom paid tribute to his co-driver Brent Dunbar who had done a number of Avon Descents on a surf ski before joining him last year to take a race win at his first attempt. “That was a huge achievement.”
“I love the river,” said Tom, “every year it never fails to throw up a different experience. I also love the challenge of competing against a lot of great people from our sport and using every trick in the book to try to come out on top.”
“It is a truly unique and extremely exciting sport to be part of. It is difficult to explain the feeling of racing down a river of rocks and rapids at speeds approaching 70 kilometres an hour on an overgrown surfboard. I have experienced sky diving and competing in the Avon is like a three hour long freefall.”
With a string of three victories under his belt, Tom knows there will be some very hungry crews out for victory this year. “I would think Scott Goodbody and Justin Green (009) as well as the Michael Prosser and Perrin Franks combination (007) will be extremely hard to beat.”
There will be plenty of competition from elsewhere of course and while Tom recognises the talent he is up against, do not be surprised if boat 001 plays a big part in Avon Descent 2016.