Anyone who stayed at the Bayswater finish line long enough would have witnessed something that probably illustrated the spirit of the Avon Descent more than anything else.

As exhausted paddlers pushed into the strong south- westerly , a blue power dinghy glided slowly and silently around the jetty at Riverside Gardens, its crew forced to paddle to the line after engine failure upstream.

The boat made it to the beach and the exhausted pair jumped out to walk it along the shoreline and through the timing markers, ensuring an official finish.

For the skipper, that was surely his most memorable finish. Even if it was his 40th Avon Descent . Gary McNamara, a quiet bloke from York, has not missed an event since 1977.

The sight of Gary being embraced by power boat winner Michael Prosser was a truly memorable image on a weekend of remarkable racing studded with personal highlights.

After the first day’s racing, Michael said he did not fancy his chances over team mates Tom Hodgkinson (reigning champion) and Scott Goodbody, but the Avon can weave a complex web in the valley on day two.

When he and co-driver Perrin Franks skimmed across the line, it was a very popular first up victory.

The paddlers set a cracking pace with West Aussies Josh Kippin and Brendan Rice slugging it out from the start. They were one and two on day one, and that is how they stayed all the way to the line, crossing with half a boat length between them.

Not that far behind, the other significant milestone of the weekend with K2 record holders Darryl Long and Paul Genovesi teaming up again 20 years after setting a race time that nobody else has been able to reach. Their own record was not threatened, but they did finish third in their class.

Sam Pilton broke away after the tea trees on day one to put her ski into the lead and was never headed to be the first female paddler home and the competition was rounded out by the Spirit Paddle Sports Interstate Challenge… with a West Australian victory.

An ideal river level to challenge skills at all levels set the scene for a remarkable Descent and a race that added another amazing chapter to the Avon legend.

Next year will bring up Avon Descent 45 and we will all be there again… Hell or High Water.




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