40 Year Paddler
Hi Greg Thompson here. Hopefully I can finish this year’s HCC as it will be my 40th a significant number. What a journey!
I completed my first Classic in 2018 and entered the race for a different reason to most of the other events I have entered.
I have always been quite scared of the dark so I knew that the Classic was going to be a mental challenge but I was working with a client in my exercise physiology business for 12 months who talked me into the race.
THE ADOPT-A-PADDLER LANDCREW
Classic rules require there to be land support for every paddler, whether that be a club supporting its paddlers communally, or individuals supporting their family or friends in individual canoes. Trish Beat has never paddled, but knows much of the river better than most paddlers after landcrewing for her daughter Mardi for 15 plus years. Not only that, she has often adopted other landcrew-less paddlers and done the same wonderful support job that Mardi enjoys. Read her story for what the landcrewing role can be like…
1949 VINTAGE - OCEAN SKI PADDLER
In 2012, Tim Hookins set the Vet60 Un1 record. He’s only been getting faster since.
This was before Ocean Racing Skis were recognized as a distinct class.
Tim has paddled, set and held records, landcrewed, and generally been an ardent Classic supporter for eons. He was also Paddle NSW president between xx and xx.
These days, he gets excited by chasing and catching waves on his ski in the ocean. Perhaps he’s one of the hardy bunch of paddlers hoping for wavey conditions on the big open stretches around Bar Point. This is his story…
The Classic is a test of endurance, both mental and physical. Even just entering the event is an achievement – saying to yourself and the world that you are up for the test. To look after the physical side, the Classic has a team of volunteers who provide physiotherapy and general first aid coverage. Leading them is the amazing Nick Stepkovitch. He has been involved in 39 Classics but has never once wavered from his dedicated volunteering to get out in a canoe himself.
How old were you when you started paddling? I was in my early teens when I started canoeing with scouts and venturers and a major paddling adventure in the Northern Territory with my father Max, then entered into paddle sport as a junior, early 80's.
How did you first become involved in the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic? My first Hawkesbury was an intro into paddle sport and came about as a sort of a dare from my father Max and his brother Lyn who were both Hawkesbury paddlers. I paddled a borrowed TK1 essentially without any actual training other than a quick practice at Lane Cove River to figure out how to hold and use double blade paddle, that resulted in about 13hrs to complete, aged 16years.
THE MUD QUEEN AND HER RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Elke van Ewyk
You probably will not recognize her, but that mud-covered person at the Low Tide Pitstop, holding you steady and serving you hot drinks and delicious treats, may well be Elke van Ewyk. She is one of the real stalwarts of the Classic - a paddler and a volunteer and a landcrew over many years. She is also an amazing cook and in the dark you may well get to sample one of her famous slices.
Brendan O’Sullivan has regularly paddled one of the fastest but most unstable craft in the fleet, leading to unexpected swims. Only a handful of paddlers have completed more Classics than Brendan O’Sullivan. He has set records in a variety of craft but perhaps what sets him apart is that three generations of O’Sullivans have been involved. He has paddled on multiple occasions with his father, one of these with a broken back, and this year aims to compete with his son.
Paul van Koesveld
Talk to this man, Paul van Koesveld, if you want tips on how to persuade a team of 64 paddlers to compete in the Classic. My other Classic career is paddling.