By Jake Dietsch.
Avon Descent organisers have opened the floodgates to a new breed of paddler – the hardcore Stand Up variety.
For the first time in the race’s 44-year history, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) will be in the line-up of the main event.
Amateur SUP rider Ian Foulsham has his doubts about whether he’ll be able to complete the race, but is thrilled at the chance to give it a go.
“You take a fair beating . . . I’ll imagine you’ll be copping an absolute flogging, but that’s part of the fun,” Mr Foulsham says.
“I think it’s a great announcement.”
Avon Descent chairman Kim Epton said the “latest paddling phenomenon’’ will be subject to the same cut-off times as other categories.
“We’re giving them the opportunity to compete, whether they can successfully, is another matter,” Mr Epton says.
Mr Epton says this announcement makes the race more inclusive.
“We’re always trying to be inclusive and we have to keep up with what’s going on,” Mr Epton says.
Canoeing WA head Rosalie Evans says competitors that stand up on the board will have their work cut out for them, compared to those on kayaks and canoes.
“Opening the full length to SUPs is an interesting idea, having done the Avon myself I think they’ll have trouble,” Ms Evans says.
This year’s Avon will also have a more exciting and accessible finish for spectators.
“We’re going to bring the fence a lot closer, so the crowd can come and shake hands with the competitors,” Mr Epton says.
He says low rainfall throughout the year will not stop the Avon going ahead.
“Hell or high water, the event is on,” Mr Epton says.
“Avon’s an adrenaline junkie’s thrill-seeking paradise, it’s part of the fabric of WA society.”
Registration for the Avon Descent is open now.