The 2017 Gippsland Lakes Paddle Challenge.
The Stand Up Paddle crew have been involved for the past 6 years and each year their numbers continually swell to make up almost a third of the total field. This year saw close to 170 paddlers take to the water.
The 2 course options both finish at picturesque Lakes Entrance with the start points being Paynesville / 27kms and Metung / 13 kms.
A few lucky ones arrived early enough to loosen the shoulders with an easy paddle. With most people staying at the Esplanade Resort, it meant they could paddle from their doorstep with the lake being across the road.
The forecast suggested that the approaching front could arrive earlier than expected meaning the Paynesville course may turn into the “House of Pain”.
The morning dawned absolutely dead calm, so in stark contrast to the forecast. Hopefully it would remain that way.
The competitors made their way up to their respective start points for registration, briefing and race starts.
The sun came out to play for both starts and everyone was away and racing. Some paddlers race, others as a challenge, some as a social day on the water. Whichever mode you chose, the glassy water, warm air and bright sunshine made for pleasant paddling.
After the Paynesville paddlers had negotiated the main section of Lake King, the Metung start had begun with the field quickly dispersing and paddling towards Flannagans Island.
The array of different craft on the water at one time made it all the more interesting, as paddlers would compare notes as they passed one another.
Once at the Entrance the paddlers could spot the footbridge in the distance, which marks the finish. For some, it would be the longest 2 kms they’d paddled, but it would come soon enough.
Cheers and photos from the bridge buoyed paddlers to stroke hard to the finish and eventual run up the beach and across the line.
Smiles, hugs and pats on the back of congratulations, then finally some relief.
Some of the paddlers had been on the water for almost 4 hrs, toiling away for 27 kms, others almost 2 hrs over 13 kms, with many milestones being achieved.
A few paddlers then turned around and paddled 1.5kms into the wind back to the hotel.
A much needed and well-earned shower and it was off to the presentation at the superbly located Lake Entrance SLSC. With the event growing by the year, the clubhouse venue was bursting at the seams with paddlers as well as locals.
Every craft category, age, gender and course are considered in the results, which is a huge feat. This year saw surfboat and OC6 crews compete as well.
The many generous sponsors [ Kite Republic being one of them ] contributed to a large prize pool, all of which goes through a very fair lucky draw system.
In this event, it’s the sport of paddling that is the winner.
Did I mention the courtesy bus he also provides to get the 50 SV crew safely to and from the pub?
Plenty of food, wine and laughs were shared after another epic day on the water.
And that’s a quick wrap up of the 2017 Gippsland Lakes Paddle Challenge.
Mark this in your diary for 2018, it’s a classic!
Paynesville 27 kms
1/ Dany Leclerc
2/ Daniel Gaitz
3/ Karl Deitz
4/ Tim Elphick
1/ Dave White
2/ Chris Clarke
3/ Pete Jackson
4/ Sean Avni
5/ Simon Murphy
1/ Warwick Lee
2/ Craig Macaulay
3/ Gary Maskiell
1/ Jean Ringrose
Metung 13 kms
1/ Richie Robertson
2/ Jon Sheard
3/ Jonathan Cowcher
4/ Andrew Arendsen
1/ Sam Hodder
2/ Dave Warner
3/ Simon Ford
4/ Joseph Gutierrez
5/ Anthony Nash
6/ Russell Croser
1/ Paul Gaynor
2/ Damien Quinlan
3/ Robert Barton
4/ Kal Marshall
5/ Graeme Newland
1/ Mark Renouf
2/ Mark Thompson
2/ Siddika Enver
3/ Xanthe Rivett
4/ Carlie Young
5/ Taryn Neal
6/ Sarah Carlisle
7/ Fiona Clarke
8/ Anita Pither
1/ Sophie-May White
1/ Sharon Bourke