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Your Race Plan


A Classic plan is a summary of what the paddler is hoping to achieve, where they plan to stop and what they need at that stop.

There are checkpoints all along the river starting at A through to T. Most of these are not visible or accessible to landcrew. Landcrew checkpoints are called major checkpoints. They are Cattai (A), Sackville (D), Wisemans Ferry (I) and Finish.


Each paddler has some idea of what they hope to achieve from the event. Are they desperate to finish or happy to get as far as they can? Are they trying to win their class or break a record?

It is important that you are told what these goals are, so you can help your paddler achieve them.

The start
  • Ensure your paddler arrives with plenty of time to spare. If you are helping with your paddler’s registration and scrutineering, allow at least 2-3 hours.

  • After the paddlers have registered and paid their sponsorship, help them take their craft and compulsory equipment to scrutineering.

  • At registration they will receive three stickers with their canoe number printed on them.

  • Put one on the craft where the paddler can read it easily as a memory jogger at checkpoints.

  • Put one sticker on the left side of the front windscreen of your car and one on the back windscreen.

  • Attend the briefing with the paddler at 2:45pm and listen for last minute instructions or changes.

  • Help the paddler onto the water when their start is called.

  • Once they have left you can leave for your first planned checkpoint.

Major checkpoints

Major checkpoints – A (Cattai), D (Sackville), I (Wisemans) – are located along the river where landcrew can meet their paddler and tend to their needs. [Note: Spencer is no longer a Checkpoint

Officials will indicate where to park. If numbers are high, parking may be at a premium. Please follow  officials’ instructions and don't argue!

As soon as possible, go to the control area and check the progress board and message boards. Check that your paddler hasn't withdrawn since you last saw them.

Find your paddler's canoe number on the Progress Board located near the official tent. These are big (2mx1.5m) notice boards listing every boat number and information about its progress.

If there is nothing beside it, your paddler has either:

a) not left the upstream checkpoint, or

b) the message that they have left has not been received by the checkpoint officials.

Monitor the progress board to see if they have left the previous checkpoint.

As soon as they are marked as a “Due Soon", proceed to the river bank and prepare to help them.

After your paddler has left a major checkpoint, you should proceed directly to the next major checkpoint where you expect to meet your paddler. This helps us locate you if necessary.

Remember that some of the major checkpoints are on private property which is used by the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic thanks to the generosity of the owners. At all times landcrew are requested to be as quiet as possible and to respect the fact that other people are trying to sleep.

NOTE: The difference between driving time and paddling time means that you may reach the major checkpoint hours before your paddler. It is important that you get rest and sustenance also. Anticipate when your paddler will arrive and make the most of the intervening time. Set the alarm if necessary and time it to wake you up at least half an hour before your paddler is due.

Mandatory major checkpoints

Regardless of where your paddler is planning to stop, all landcrew must visit these major checkpoints and stay there until their paddler has passed through:

  • Sackville (D):  

  • Wisemans Ferry (I)

Optional major checkpoints

Landcrew may also visit the optional major checkpoints. At these checkpoints it is possible to meet your paddler.

Cattai (A): This checkpoint is 12.4km from the Start and a number of paddlers like to stop at this checkpoint and adjust their craft. The checkpoint is in Cattai National Park.

When should I expect my paddler?

Hopefully your paddler will have some idea of how fast they paddle from their training program. If they have no idea, the time they take to get to the first checkpoint can be a useful guide to their E.T.A. downstream. The current tide graph  at can be used to help predict and adjust for the effect of the tide. Remember that paddler's times can slow by as much as 4km/hour if paddling against the tide compared to their speed with the tide.

To determine expected time of arrivals (ETA): Mark the time the paddler actually left the start on the left hand side. Mark the time the craft arrived at Checkpoint Cattai (A). Above the A point join the two points.

Continue this line further in a straight line until it meets a tide change. Adjust to a shallower line if the tide changes to an outgoing tide and to a steeper line if the tide is now against the paddler.

Estimate the time of arrival at the next major checkpoint based on that speed. In this way speed can be revised during the event.

After attending to the paddler’s needs, compare the actual time of arrival with the expected time of arrival on the graph. Adjust the graph to suit and continue the process.

How do I know where my paddler is?

While Officials have a running check of a craft's progress at each checkpoint, you will only know where your paddler is when the number appears on the “Progress Board”.

This will indicate the time a message was sent that the craft had passed the checkpoint upstream. This is usually the prior checkpoint.

The times that the paddler actually arrives at and leaves the major checkpoint are also noted on this board.

If there is no information against the paddler's number, it means that the checkpoint officials have not had word that the paddler has left the upstream checkpoint.

Checks could be made to see which was the last checkpoint they had passed, however because of the volume of messages, these checks are not done except in an emergency.

What to do if I think my paddler is overdue?

Keep a track of what other craft are paddling before and after your craft. This gives an indication whether paddling conditions (which would affect all craft alike) are to blame. Although our system detects overdue paddlers, as a safety backup we recommend every landcrew should also notify checkpoint officials if they feel their paddler is substantially overdue.

These checks will take time, please remember that one reason for the delay could be that the paddler is perfectly safe, but resting at a minor checkpoint upstream.

How will we find each other?

The checkpoints are NOT floodlit. The paddler’s night sight is important; hence shining torches or lights at the paddlers is likely to receive very adverse remarks!

Paddlers and landcrew devise different methods to stand out in a crowd. Whatever you choose, don’t make it too noisy or too bright. Remember that locals and other landcrew are trying to sleep and don’t blind the paddlers.

There may be occasions when officials need to find you. Ensure that you display the sticker with your paddler’s canoe number on the left side of your front windscreen and on the rear windscreen, so they can find you. The make and registration number noted on the entry form can also be used if we need to find you for any reason.

It may by useful for you to arrange to meet your paddler at a specific part of a checkpoint, for example near the far end, to reduce the possibilities of not finding each other.

What do I do when my paddler arrives?
  • Help paddler out of the craft. Be prepared as this may require standing in the water.

  • Lift the craft to a safe place on the land, or stand by the craft if it is kept on the water for a quick departure.

  • Dry paddler's hands.

  • Monitor your paddler for excessive tiredness, irritability, stubbornness and hypothermia.

  • Sponge out any water from the craft.

  • Check drink and snack supplies in the craft.

  • Ensure they are adequately clothed.

  • Prepare maps for the next section of the river.

  • Massage back and shoulders lightly if needed.

  • Encourage them. If they are doing better than expected, let them know. If not, they may have had unreal expectations, check to see how they are doing compared to others in their class. There will be a list of paddlers in class order as at the close of entries available on the web site.

Can I meet my paddler at places other than major checkpoints?
  • Absolutely Not!

  • We appreciate the fact that the beach areas at Major Checkpoints can get crowded. However, while you are stopped there, you are accounted for in our safety system.

  • If your paddler stops somewhere else for longer than ten minutes they will probably be considered overdue at the next checkpoint and searches could be instigated which could create difficulties for other paddlers.

  • The bonus for sticking to the official checkpoints is that landcrew can enjoy the camaraderie of being with other landcrew.

  • Paddlers must ensure their craft number is checked IN at checkpoints before stopping. Again, time has been wasted in the past as officials search for "lost" craft that are drawn up to the beach just before the checkpoint "IN” station.

What do I do while I'm waiting?
  • While the landcrew is motivating the paddler, who motivates the landcrew?

  • Don't landcrew alone!!

  • Entertainment – take cards, music, games, people, food and “light refreshments”. Don't drink & drive!

  • Keep track of your paddler's progress and be ready.

  • Circulate, talk to other landcrews and officials.

  • Have a change of clothes for yourself. Be comfortable, keep warm.

  • Some checkpoints may be glad of some help. Don't be backward in offering to help, particularly if they seem busy.

  • Try having the driver sleeping while the second landcrew waits on the beach, then switch so the beach landcrew can sleep in the car between checkpoints.

The Finish
  • Follow parking directions from the volunteers.

  • Cheer in other finishers as you wait for your paddler.

  • Remove craft from the landing area as soon as possible, it can get very crowded if you delay.

  • Return canoe number and cyalume holders.

  • Pick up certificate showing elapsed finishing time.

  • Although they are tired, paddlers may show enthusiasm. Ensure they rest and get warm while you put away equipment.

  • Encourage paddlers to change clothing, even if not wet, and see the Pink First Aid for aid if needed.

  • Hot sausage sandwiches and a cup of coffee are a big hit at the NSW Marine Rescue Hawkesbury Unit BBQ!

What do I do if my paddler wants to withdraw?
  • All paddlers get tired and dispirited at some time during the event, particularly if they have been battling an incoming tide.

  • They may just need a rest and some sustenance.

  • Sports Physiotherapists and volunteers from the Pink First Aid are on hand to give massages and help with blisters. This treatment, a warm drink and a short rest may rekindle their determination.

  • Assess their situation and suggest they just take it checkpoint by checkpoint.

  • If the paddler feels they cannot finish the event, remove the canoe number from their craft and take it to the CHECKPOINT OFFICIAL to give official notification.

  • If this is not done an unnecessary search and rescue will be started which may endanger the lives of others who are in real difficulty.


  • Once a paddler withdraws they may not re-enter the event.

  • Whilst we make every effort to encourage and enable every entrant to finish, we do ask that paddlers not make an overnight camping trip of the event. It is an all night event. Don’t expect to get 8 hours sleep!

  • Cut off times for leaving checkpoints apply at Wisemans Ferry (I). 

  • No paddler will be permitted to leave those checkpoints (or an upstream checkpoint) after those times.

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