Some of my favourite images from my interpretation of street photography from around the world.
My latest attempt at a sequence photo. Backloop by Felix Spencer at Bell Buoy, Tasmania.
Last year I completed the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (HCC) on a stand up paddle board. The HCC is a paddle race organised for charity and which has been running for well over 30 years. It is a grueling 111 km paddle along the Hawkesbury river in the craft of your choice. Competitors start on a saturday afternoon, paddle through the night (with hopefully a full moon) and finish in the early hours of sunday morning. It is a great experience but very hard on the body and mind. I felt a real sense of achievement at the finish line!
I have wanted to complete the Hawkesbury Classic on a SUP ever since I saw Stuart Murray’s article about his adventure in 2008 in OuterEdge magazine. So when I finally had enough time in one place to train and prepare for such a race I jumped at the opportunity. The fact that the classic was benefitting the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation made the decision even easier.
So who better to turn to for help and guidance than Stuart? I was very fortunate and thankful to not only be able to pick his brain on his thoughts of the race but to also be provided with a board to use! The Suplove Stingray 14’. Many thanks Stuart!
When race day came my support crew and I headed a few hours down the freeway to Windsor. Albeit a bit apprehensively for the distance that lay ahead but also the impending wind that was forecast to come from the south at midnight at 40 km/h, right in our path.
When you turn up to have your SUP board scrutinised by the officials at a race like this that is mainly frequented by sit down craft you get many confused looks and comments. However to quote my friend ‘ it’s hard to know how to feel when people who are prepared to paddle 111 km in a kayak all night long “for fun” are calling someone on a SUP to be “crazy” or just stand there laughing at the SUP board’. Though in saying that in all respects people are very happy to see you there and admire you just for attempting such a race.
After registration we sat down in some shade a fair way away from the other 500 or so competitors to relax and prepare for the race. Food and clothing was arranged for each support crew assisted pit stop while my friends also helped me with my warm-up and nutrition.
Before the start time of 16:15 I caught up with the other five stand up paddlers who were taking on the challenge, including my friend and training partner Matthew Patterson and Cameron Mackay who completed the Classic last year.
Once we were underway we headed straight into the wind but with the tide. The leading SUP’s took up a furious pace. At first I was in two minds about what to do. I knew I should pace myself for what was to come. But I also knew that if I wanted to achieve my goal of 15h 30 min (current record) I would have to try and keep up with them.
The first pit stop at 12.4 km went by quite quickly and I managed to pass the 18 km checkpoint in under two hours which was quite surprising. I had some early pain in my left shoulder and upper arm (from previous injuries) but as my arms warmed up they gradually went away.
At the second pit stop at Sackville (31 km) I was able to replenish my water and food and take on a new shirt and beanie for the cold night ahead. With thanks to my support crew I got away quickly and into the incoming tide.
Due to the faster craft starting hours after us there were many people coming by at all times during the race in everything from 6 man outrigger canoes to homemade wooden kayaks (some would even pass me numerous times after taking longer at each pit stop). It was very encouraging to get nothing but positive comments and help from each one and to witness the great camaraderie and spirit that comes with a race for such a special charity.
I had a feeling that I was not progressing the way I would have liked a few hours out of Sackville, though I just attributed it to paddling into the current. It wasn’t’ until my friend Matt came screaming past me at twice my speed that I thought something was wrong, as I was still feeling great. Taking nothing away from Matt’s athleticism it finally dawned on me to check my fin and managed to find it covered in seaweed. I noted to myself with great frustration that I should have used a weed fin. Though this setback spurred me on and I managed to catch Matt and we came into the third and final pit stop at Wisemann’s Ferry (65 km) together.
After being resupplied by our support crew once again we set off together and decided to work together for the rest of the race. Once up and going we saw Michelle England, the lone female SUP entrant, just in front of us. Then a second later she was in the water. In our tired state we didn’t really register what had happened before it was too late. Then with a jolt and a grinding halt we were both in the water as well. We had gone too close to shore and hit the ferry’s tow cables.
After a quick check to see that our fins were still in the proper position and a few profanities on Matt’s part we were up. Though unfortunately, we didn’t realise for quite a while that Michelle had pulled out through injury, as by the time we had got back up we had drifted downstream. It was a great effort on her part to get to Wisemann’s with an injured shoulder at such a great speed and a very tough way to end it.
We were now with the tide so we tried to make the most of it. We knew that we were well behind the two leading SUP’s in Cameron and Ben Brown but we also knew that we were over 45 min up on our targeted finishing time. Our mood about our finishing prospects changed dramatically and each checkpoint came and went a lot quicker than expected up until the 98 km mark.
Luckily for us the predicted southerly, which would have made the second half of the race directly into the wind, never eventuated. What we were left with was a perfect night for paddling. There was not a great deal of light other than the glow sticks on the other craft around us, but the peacefulness of the river and the beautiful phosphoresces which was produced with every paddle stroke made the experience very special.
Once the tide changed for the third time we knew we were in for a hard slog home. Three kilometre distances between checkpoints felt like 15 and maintaining a good average speed became very difficult. At the 106 km mark I decided to just put my head down and paddle it out.
Seeing the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance was a big moment. The picture of that bridge had been stuck in my mind for a long time so to finally see it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. But I still had to get there. After two kilometres of paddling towards it, I still wasn’t there and thought it was playing a nasty trick on me. Though, eventually I did cross the line in 14 hours 42 minutes and 46 seconds, with Matt a few minutes behind me.
Although we were by no means the first SUP’s across the line we were ecstatic with our times, considering we had beaten the previous record by over 40 minutes.
A massive congratulations to all the stand up paddlers and kayakers who took part in this race to help the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation. It is such a well run event and I recommend it to anyone who would like to give it a go.
Also many thanks to my support crew, Stuart Murray and Suplove, my sponsors and everyone else who donated to the foundation and supported me along the way. I really appreciate it!
Now to the next challenge!!
I was lucky when I started university again this year to find a big group of surfers in my course. Within two weeks of commencing studies I was already on a surf trip to Marrawah on the west coast. I was a bit apprehensive about what conditions to expect as the west coast is notorious for big waves, strong winds and cold water. So to arrive and find blue sky, clean waves and warm water was a real treat and a great introduction to Tassie surfing.