Safety Competency in 2017

Each year the Avon Descent brings with it many changes and news initiatives and 2017 is no exception. In addition to a revised system of paddlecraft classes and the new requirements for paddler helmets, we have also made changes to the rules regarding paddler safety competency.


What are the Avon Descent safety competency rules for paddlers in 2017?

As per our Event Rules:


In previous years our competency requirements allowed the consideration of experience from similar races to be used to qualify a paddler for entry. In consultation with local bodies, a revision of the rules has led to us requiring either a full completion of both days of the event in the past five years, an Australian canoeing Award System course or a safety skills assessment.

Safety Competency versus Paddling Competency

It’s very important to understand our requirements are not designed to look at whether or not the competitor can complete the race. We are aiming to ensure that those who compete have a set of necessary safety skills that will allow the competitor to react appropriately and save themselves in the event of a capsize or other incident during the race.

Competitor safety has always been of utmost importance to us and we consider this is a necessary part of our due diligence in conducting the race.



Scheduling a Safety Skills Assessment

A range of options still exist for competitors to complete a safety skills assessment in time for this year’s event and competitors have up until Friday Registration on 4th of August to be signed for competency.

  • Western Paddlesports will be scheduling another session between now and the event weekend, date to be announced. Enquire now to book your place.
  • Ascot Kayak Club will hold a training session for club members on Saturday the 22nd of July from 1:00-4:00pm.
    • This session will include an Avon Descent safety skills course and participants will receive a signed completion certificate.
    • A limited number of places will also be made available to non-members who are having difficulty organising a safety assessment (a fee of $100 per person applies). Bookings for this will be opening soon.
    • Visit for more information
  • The Avon Descent sporting committee will run a skills assessment on the Friday 4th August prior to registrations. This safety skills session will be suitable last chance opportunity for those interstate and regional competitors seeking assessment or those who have been unable to secure a safety assessment by other means.
    • Please send an email to to find out more. A fee may be applicable.
    • Another Avon Descent committee session may be scheduled prior to this, subject to competitor demand. We will make an announcement about this, if applicable.
  • Interstate assessors are available in Victoria and we are in the process of securing assessors in NSW and other states. Please contact us for more information or view the links below

Once you have completed a safety assessment then please forward (or ask your assessor to forward) your completed form to We will then tick this off in your entry form.


We are aware of the already significant costs and demands of entering and preparing for the event and have tried as much as possible to ensure that these safety changes do not cause unnecessary inconvenience for competitors. We hope that all competitors can find a suitable solution for their circumstances and we will continue to provide further assistance wherever possible.

If you have any further questions please contact


P.S. Don’t forget Scrutineering is from 9 am on Sunday 23rd of July, Hinds Reserve Bayswater. This is compulsory for all entries (if you cannot attend you must nominate a person who can supply appropriate ID to bring your equipment for scrutiny). Regional and interstate competitors must contact us for special arrangements.


Good luck in your training and in the 2017 Avon Descent!


Sean Dunstan

Sport Coordinator




This Post Has 2 Comments


    I support the need for paddlers to be competent re safety skills, but there seem to be inconsistencies in the requirements. A paddler is deemed to have the safety skills if they have completed both days of the Descent in the last 5 years. Why? How does completing the event bestow safety skills on the paddler? And why is completing the event (with respect to getting safety skills) any different from completing the Northam-Toodyay Race and tea-tree & Valley runs on separate days?


    Hi Sean, Thank you for providing clarification on what ‘both days’ meant as this had caused confusion for pairs and fours and for providing more detail on opportunities for competency testing. Hopefully next year consideration can be given for previous white water experience and the section being done by members in a team of four. Regards Anne

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