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Paddler Safety and Progress



There are four car ferry cables to be crossed by competitors in the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic - Sackville, Lower Portland, Webbs Creek and Wisemans Ferry.  RMS has placed the following restriction on craft crossing ferry cables as part of the event's Aquatic Licence:

  • No craft will cross ferry cables while the ferry is underway.

  • Ferry cables will only be crossed midstream, in the marked channel and only when the orange flashing light on the ferry is extinguished.


To help paddlers comply with these instructions there will be small floats with a blue strobe flashing light placed so that they form a gate about 50 metres upstream of each car ferry.


Competitors must pass through these gates and remain midstream until the ferry cables are passed. Each car ferry will have an orange flashing light mounted on it. This light will be turned on whenever the vessel is moving. No competitor may pass through the channel or cross ferry cables while the ferry’s light is flashing. SES or Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW vessels will be stationed at each ferry to guide paddlers through the gates. Watch for car movement on the ferry ramp as a guide that the ferry will be remaining stationary. When the ferry boom gate closes, startup is imminent and SES will start to halt any approaching kayaks. Failure to comply with these instructions will result in disqualification from the event and may jeopardise the entire event for coming years.

Narrow Channels

Paddlers must obey the RMS authorities ruling regarding narrow channels. Always keep to the right hand or starboard side of a channel when proceeding through and do not impede the passage of other vessels using the channel.

Checking In/Out

It is the responsibility of all competitors to ensure that their craft number is recorded at every checkpoint station indicated by a special orange flashing light. If the station is on board a vessel, it may also be marked by a string of cyalumes.
Stations will be positioned in the best spot for the safety network. Note that there may be two stations at major checkpoints (IN and OUT) or they may be away from the beach access point.
Look for the light and give your number. It is in your best interests, so we know where you are.
Paddlers failing to check through Checkpoint F will have a fifteen minute time penalty added to their overall time. Paddlers failing to check IN or OUT at Checkpoint I will have a fifteen minute time penalty added to their overall time.

Land Checkpoints

All craft must pass between the floating buoys and the river bank.

Boat Checkpoints

All craft must pass within 10 metres of the checkpoint vessel.

Note: The land checkpoint at SPENCER is NO LONGER available


All craft must pass the end of the pontoon.


The leading craft has the right of way at all times. The onus is on any overtaking craft to do so with safety, by giving slower craft plenty of room. Remember, a slower craft is generally more difficult to steer and control and is likely to be crewed by a relatively inexperienced paddler.

Equal Times

If the group you are paddling with wishes to record the same time, indicate this at the Finish.

Emergency Situation

Paddlers MUST assist any paddler in difficulty. If you fail to do so or to observe any safety regulation you will be disqualified.


The Organising Committee will consider requests for redress from paddlers rendering assistance in an emergency.
Such requests must be made in writing or by email to to the Event Co-ordinator within 24 hours of the paddler involved completing the Classic. This should state where and when the incident took place, the canoe number of the assisted craft and details of any supporting witnesses. Adjustment of your time will then be considered.


A competitor may not be accompanied along the course or assisted in any way by other craft not entered in the Classic or by any other vessel.
A competitor may receive assistance from landcrews. This is limited to first aid services, provision of food, drink and clothes, replacement of faulty equipment including paddles and help with repairs.
No exchange or substitution of craft or personnel is permitted in the Classic. In the event of a capsize, a competitor may receive assistance emptying their boat and regaining their paddling position, but may not be progressed in any way.


Protests must be addressed in writing to the Event Co-ordinator within three hours after the paddler completes or withdraws from the Classic. It should state clearly which Rule has been infringed and the details supporting this accusation.
This must be lodged with an Event Official, accompanied by a $50 fee which will be refunded should the protest be upheld.


Paddlers withdrawing must hand in their canoe number and GPS tracker at the checkpoint of withdrawal. This avoids unnecessary searching when paddlers withdraw without notifying the checkpoint official. All craft must be accounted for before checkpoints can close down. If paddlers withdraw between checkpoints, the distance and time taken for results will be the time through the previous checkpoint.
If a craft is withdrawn, it may not re-enter the event.
If a canoe number is not handed in (as there is a major safety control issue) the paddler will be fined $100 and banned from entering future HCC events.

Swapping Paddlers or Craft

The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic is not a relay event and swapping of paddlers or craft, or altering craft throughout the night is not permitted. If paddlers or craft are swapped or if the craft is altered without the Race Controller’s permission the craft will be disqualified.

Notwithstanding, there are specific rules for paddlers in the two relay events, here, when craft and paddlers can be changed

Lights on Craft

Red lights, strobe lights or flashing lights are not permitted to be displayed on the craft during the event.


No entry will be accepted without a landcrew. Landcrew must agree to be available at the Start, Checkpoint D, Checkpoint I and the Finish to tend to their paddlers.
Landcrew may also meet their paddlers at optional major checkpoints A. Landcrew must be prepared to return from Finish should the event be shortened to this point.
Landcrew are not permitted access to minor checkpoints unless requested to do so by an Official. Breaching this rule will result in the disqualification of the landcrew’s paddler/s.
Landcrew must pick up their paddler as soon as possible after notification of withdrawal at an upstream minor checkpoint. Directions will be provided by checkpoint officials on request.
Landcrew are not permitted to meet paddlers outside official checkpoints. If this is reported by an official the paddler will be disqualified.

Landcrew for Large Groups

Large groups are not exempt from these rules. With the written agreement of the Event Co-ordinator, a group can have different landcrew at major checkpoints, provided the landcrew co-ordinator at each major checkpoint:

  • reports to the checkpoint marshalls;

  • arrives with their support team well before the leading craft in the Classic;

  • remains with their support team until all their paddlers are accounted for at the following downstream checkpoint;

  • has access to sufficient vehicles to promptly collect and carry any paddler plus craft who has withdrawn at that checkpoint or the preceding upstream minor checkpoints. Sufficient vehicles is defined as a vehicle for every two craft with that vehicle capable of carrying all paddlers from those craft;

  • carries enough spare clothes, food and blankets for all of their paddlers;

  • continually monitors the progress board for any message concerning their paddlers.

Minimum progress - Cut off times

No craft will be permitted to leave a checkpoint upstream from and including:

  • Checkpoint D (Sackville) after 9:30pm.

  • Checkpoint (Wisemans Ferry) after 2am on Sunday.


Hawkesbury Canoe Classic Association Inc. holds a Public Liability Policy to cover itself as organiser, volunteers and public bodies. It does not cover competitors or landcrew for accidents whilst taking part in the event. We recommend that you take out your own personal accident insurance if you desire such cover for both the paddlers and landcrews. The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic Association requires all participants and landcrew leaders to read and sign the event disclaimer/indemnity.


Paddlers who are disqualified are not considered to be part of the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic from the time of the disqualification. Disqualified paddlers will not have their time recorded or receive a finishing medal and are not eligible for recognition in class placing or fastest recorded time. There will be no refund of entry fee or donation.

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