PADDLING: When Ballina resident and former Olympian Denise Cooper tackled the Women's K4 Kayaking finals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics it was surely the toughest test she had ever faced.
But the Olympic finalist is about to tackle another extreme challenge - 100km of the pristine Clarence River.
Cooper will climb into the kayak at Copmanhurst on Friday for the start of the second annual Clarence 100 among a field of strong contenders including a Surf Life Saving state and national champion, America's Cup sailors and white water afficionado Steve Muir.
Yamba Surf Life Saving Club 'legend' and national surf boats medallist Jim Dougherty will also make his return to the water craft for the annual event.
Clarence 100 organiser Ben Sullivan said the interest for the competition which started as a social paddle last year has been "unbelievable".
"People from all over New South Wales, a massive contingent from Mooloolaba and a good local contingency from around the Clarence have all registered for the paddle," Sullivan said. "We have more than 50 people who have entered for the paddle but we expect that number to keep climbing in the days to come.
"I think a lot of the people are interested to not only compete but to also enjoy what is on offer in the local community."
The 100km journey is undertaken in three legs across the weekend with paddlers beginning at Copmanhurst on Friday morning before arriving outside the Crown Hotel at about midday.
The paddle will begin again from the Prince Street boat ramp on Saturday morning finishing in Maclean around lunchtime before the final leg to Whiting Beach at Yamba on Sunday.
Organisers have introduced a new feature for the second instalment of the event with all competitors being timed throughout the legs with a new Clarence 100 record ready to be set.
"Competition is what drives people to come back," Sullivan said. "So we are hoping people will want to keep trying to break the records set."