Paul Bates - a newcomer to the sport of wildwater
Last weekend the 2014 Australian Wildwater Championships were held on the Snowy River near Jindabyne in NSW.
This was the first time the National Championships have been held on this river high up in Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains. The Classic course was a beautiful three kilometre section of Grade 2 and 3 rapids that started at an elevation of 1,257 metres above sea level and finished at 1,222 metres. Most paddlers rated it as one of the best wildwater racing venues in Australia alongside the Mersey in Tasmania, although racing at such high altitude was a new challenge in itself that the athletes had to get used to. The water releases from Snowy Hydro were either 2 turbine release, which is great, or one turbine releases which was somewhat lower and more technical. Fortunately for the majority of racing we had the good two turbine release.
The first event on the Sunday was the Rapid Sprints which comprised of two runs with the best time counting. The first run commenced with only a one turbine release making the course somewhat lower and more technical but still a good course. Unfortunately between the two runs the volume increased to a two turbine release meaning that the first run times would almost become irrelevant as all second run times would be considerably faster. Accordingly it was agreed at the time between all the paddlers, that rather than do two runs at the higher level and disregard the lower volume first run, they would depart from the current ICF rules of best run and revert to the old rules of adding the two run times together.
As a result of the combination of the two times Robert McIntyre (NSW) who had the fastest time in both runs took out his third national open men's K1 title in a combined time of 130.6 seconds. Matthew French (VIC) was second in a time of 133.75 seconds followed by Alex McIntyre (NSW) in a time of 137.56 seconds.
Kristy Packham (VIC) took out the open woman's K1 title for the third time with a time of 155.76 seconds with Maddie Batters (VIC) finishing in second place and Alayne Bonney (TAS) in third.
In the under 23 men's K1 Tom Mountney (TAS) took out the title in a time of 138.37 seconds ahead of Lochiel Cameron (TAS) with Corey Beck (VIC) finishing in third. In the junior girls Shayannah Beck (VIC) took the title with Georgina Collin (WA) finishing in second place. In the Junior men's Louis Wilson from TAS took the title and Chris Wharton (VIC) took the title in the Veterans class.
On the following day the river gods were with us and we had a two turbine release making for ideal conditions for the classic race. In the open men's K1 Matthew French took out his second consecutive classic national title in a time of 9 minutes 44.29 seconds, ahead of Stewart Bennett (TAS) in a time of 9 minutes 48.7 seconds and Matt Dalziel (TAS) taking the bronze in a time of 9 minutes 56.91 seconds.
In the open woman's K1 Kristy Packham took out her second national Championship in a time of 11 minutes 31.12 seconds in the slightest of margins over Maddie Batters, whose time was 11 minutes 32.18 seconds.
In the Under 23 men's it was a repeat of the sprint event, with Tom Mountney taking the title in a time of 10 minutes 9.09 seconds ahead of Lochiel Cameron and Corey Beck. Shayannah Beck again took out the Junior Girls, Louis Wilson (TAS) took out the junior boys and Chris Wharton took out the Veterans.