DIGGING deep, 21 paddlers from the TAS Kayak Club successfully completed the 111km Hawkesbury Canoe Classic held overnight on Saturday. The team was proud of its efforts in the water and out of it, having raised more than $35,000 for charity.
Considered one of the two great canoeing challenges in Australia, the overnight paddle from Windsor to Brooklyn Bridge is a key fundraiser for the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation, which assists in leukemia research.
The students, staff and parents from The Armidale School, PLC Armidale and New England Girls’ School, spent months preparing for the 37th annual event, with ideal weather conditions resulting in a 100 per cent finish for the team.
“It is the first time that all our paddlers have arrived at the end without being withdrawn from the race for being sick, injured or too slow for the cut-off times.
The weather and tides were very favourable for us and all who participated in the event, paddlers and land crew alike, enjoyed themselves immensely,” team co-ordinator Tim Wheaton said.
“Our fastest paddlers, Duncan and Lachlan McDonald were the ones that raised most of the money for our team – more than $20,000 – so it was fitting that they also came first out of our paddlers.”
The father and son team crossed the line in 12 hours, 23 minutes and 44 seconds, while Duncan’s wife Fiona and another son Jock, completed the gruelling event in 15.01.30. The last paddlers through finished in just under 18 hours.
The Hawkesbury is very much a team event with landcrew staying up through the night to offer support to the paddlers out in the dark at two refreshment stops.
TAS has been part of the event for 35 of its 37 years, including repeat paddles by one of four headmasters during this time. Over the decades TAS has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Arrow Foundation. A co-contribution from the Macquarie Group Foundation in support of their Hong Kong-based staff member and TAS Old Boy Duncan McDonald boosted this year’s team efforts to more than $35,000.