2019 SunSmart Upper Swan Race

The 2019 SunSmart Upper Swan Race was held on Sunday the 23rd of June from Middle Swan to Ascot Kayak Club.

Report by Doug Hodson

Photos by Britt-Marie Good-Gerne

K2s racing off during the Upper Swan

So it was late June and time for the Upper Swan race, a longer one in preparation for the Avon Descent, in fact really long, 26km. As Race Director Chris Hollier sat at his desk slaving away at Start Lists and Race-day paperwork and the racers all loaded up on spaghetti and watched footy, the rain beat down on tin roofs all round town for most of the night.

Paddlers congregated at AKC early on Sunday. It seems one can never be the first one, there is always someone before you, convinced some of them sleep the night there.


Boats in place for the start of the Upper Swan (left), Pristine conditions for the race (right).

Boats got moved from one car to another and the contestants made their way to Middle Swan. Most of the river bank was under repair, boats had to be dropped in the park. Water conditions looked good, zero wind and high tide, the rain had lightened up to a UK-style drizzle.

Rego numbers were excellent: 110 vs 72 for last year. However, there were a few, who have been noted, who obviously looked out the window at the rain and elected to not get out of bed so there wasn’t a complete complement of 110 at the start !!

Chris H delivered an excellent briefing in which he also mentioned that Peel Paddle 50 has been dropped for this year and the date for Marathon Dinner is July 20th. Keep your eyes out for ticket sales for the top social event on the paddling calendar.

The support boat came steaming up from Fish Market Reserve, docked at the pontoon and refused to start again. Boats have a habit of performing just when you don’t want them too.

The man with the bushy beard and the loud voice, Ian Quinn, got the race underway. Long plastics and Div 4 off first and then up through the Divs to the doubles at the end. Short course took off after that and the timers then went down the road and got the Guppies going from Barkers. There was a great mix of skills, the guns were there but there were also plenty of intermediate paddlers and a few first-time Avon Descenters. The short course was packed with young guns mixed in with sensible people who knew that 26km was just unnecessary!

Looking great in pink to bring awareness to Sarcoma (left) K2s changing leads (right)

The paddle upstream to Barrat St went by pretty quickly, there was plenty of traffic with the fast guys catching the others. There was a reasonable amount of vegetation in the water, a taste of what is to come over the next couple of months. The turn at the bridge was tight and sorted some of the doubles out and then came the long slog back down the river.

Packs established themselves. Josh Kippin, Jesse Phillips, William Lee and Andrew Crothers were probably hurtling down the course together at the front of the pack. The rest of the field got themselves sorted into little groups and got settled in for a long paddle. Brett MacDonald, in a Liker long plastic, jumped on every group that came past him and kept them company for as long as he could.

Dave Worthy and Darry Long reminded themselves of how much they liked each other out on the race course. They were in a pack of K2s with John Hilton and Spencer King. Mark Lawson and Doug Hodson had been dropped [owing to shortage of skills, speed and ideas on the part of the latter]. Rob Jenkinson and Gareth Wright were in a ski powering out ahead of them.


Julie Jenkinson & Peter Liddle (left), Rob Jenkinson & Gareth Wright (centre), Warren Southwell (right).

The long paddle down to Barkers went by and then everyone was back in familiar territory counting off the milestones: Bassendean Jetties, Sat AM turn spit, sandstone wall, Sandy Beach, AKC and beyond. Paddlers were starting to look weary, K1s were waiting for good washes to come by, K2 teams fell in or got out to stretch legs because the bum ache was too much to live with, paddle cadence slowed up.

AKC hove into sight, spirits got up, Josh and Jesse came steaming into the finish and the rest of the pack picked it up down to the green spit and reset their goals for what they thought they could or wanted to achieve before the end.

After an outrageously long paddle, the race morphed into a sprint from Redcliffe Bridge back to the club, a flop out onto the grass, a quick shower and a feast of gourmet burgers and excellent pumpkin soup cooked and served up by Chris Watson, Mike Holder and Jason Gardner.

The short course guys were the first back headed by a quartet of youths in one pack: Luke Egger, Matt Greed, Mark Alderson [honorary youth] and Jeremy Alderson [chasing Dad]. Tim Hyde came in behind them followed by a pairing of Michael Liddle and Nicholas Greed.

A great turnout of plastic skis to do the long slog!

The lead in the long race was brought in by Josh Kippin with Jesse Phillips close behind him. William Lee and Andrew Crothers came in together 1-1/2 mins behind. Ben Carrick was up there, he can be relied on to appear at this time of year before the Avon.

Rob Jenkinson and Gareth Wright killed the doubles race with Dave Worthy and Maya leading up the pack of doubles that were in behind them.

Amongst the youths in the long course, Harry Langley and Noah Boldy did well and you could see they hadn’t left anything out there.

Brett McDonald was the first long plastic, he felt like he’d had some exercise ! Second long plastic was marathon man Warren Southwell who is making a great recovery from quite a few weeks off sorting out a melanoma.

Well done to Mands Bowman, first lady in and looking strong all the way.

There were some new but not young paddlers at the finish line: Jayden O’Brien and Josh Richards well done chaps.


Lead K1 Pack (Left) Dave Tupling racing in a wavehopper! (Right)

Finally, the tough nuts came cruising in, well done to them too: Sharon Cobley, Kate Martin, Cameron Porter, well done team, great effort.

The guppies had a good race, Beau Jacob and Rhys MacRae were neck and neck in the lead at the end and there were four others. Izzy Florisson managed to keep a commentary going for most of her paddle from Barkers to AKC, good work !!

At the end of the day, a great race, good numbers, great competition, really good conditions all the way, good eats afterwards and lots of happy paddlers lounging around watching footy and box sets in their nice warm houses for the rest of the day. Thanks to Chris Hollier and his team [and Chris’s Missus, Julie, who was up at Middle Swan early on Sunday morning !] – great job.

Good luck to all with Avon Training. Remember, no Peel Paddle 50 and Marathon Dinner planned for July 20th. See you on the water !

Class Winners

Full results can be found here:

Adult results

Guppy results