Safety & Competency Assessment

Competitors must demonstrate they have appropriate skills to handle the challenges of the river before they will be allowed to compete. Safety competency testing is aimed ONLY at ensuring that competitors have these necessary skills  and is NOT aimed at determining whether or not the competitor is competent to complete the race.


Please Note: We are unable to provide safety assessment services to competitors. However a number of local competency assessors are available to provide assessment for a fee. These can be found at the bottom of this page

Safety Competency Assessment Overview

All intending paddle competitors – whether novices or veterans – are required to provide evidence of competency to participate. Competency can be established through the following criteria:

  1. Recent Avon Descent experience – completion of both days of the Avon Descent within the previous five years.
  2. An Australian Canoeing Award System course completion.
  3. Completion of the Avon Descent Safety Skills Assessment – for participants who cannot provide other evidence of safety competency. The Avon Descent Safety Skills assessment can be attained through NADA recommended paddle trainers, and is valid for three years.



Some of the skills that may be assessed include:

  • Demonstrate defensive swimming techniques
  • Identify the potential hazards when swimming in moving water
  • Adopt the correct body position to minimise injury following craft capsize
  • Demonstrate aggressive swimming techniques
  • Demonstrate the ability to set a ferry angle in order to reach the bank or eddy
  • Demonstrate breaking in and out of eddies in order to get to shore
  • Identify and demonstrate techniques to actively free oneself from river hazards in simulations
  • Demonstrate the ability to wade across a current of mid-thigh depth, alone and using support, in order to self-rescue
  • Demonstrate craft re-entry
  • Identify a variety of different re-entry techniques
  • Elect a method of re-entry after consideration of physical ability, type of craft and situational variances.

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Complete assessment and determination of competency is the responsibility of your chosen assessor.

Safety Competency Assessors

Please Note: We are in the process of updating this list. Please check back here soon for more providers.


Western Paddlesports :Phone: 0411 885 052 Email:; Website:


Canoes Plus Phone: 03 9857 0110 Email: Website:


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