Organisers persevere despite lack of whitewater rapids
THE CLARENCE Valley hosts the NSW All Schools Canoeing Championships this weekend.
However the rapids greeting competitors will be a far cry from the raging torrents used as a training facility for the 2000 Olympics.
Instead, the closure of the Nymboida Power Station has forced organisers to move the whitewater events from the world renowned stretch of Goolang Creek at Nymboida Canoe Centre to a section of Nymboida River.
"Local landholders have greatly assisted providing access to a section of river with reasonable flows," convenor Mark Ellis said.
However, Ellis admitted the rapids will be less technical to negotiate for the top paddlers and, as a result, the figure of 30 entries from eight schools is significantly down on previous years.
"This is partly due to not having access to the facilities at Nymboida Canoe Centre due to the closure of the rapids there," Ellis said.
Most disappointing is the fact there are just two locals competing - South Grafton High's Sebastian Young and Chris Robinson.
"Over the last 20 years there has always been a very strong contingent from North Coast," Ellis said.
"There are several contributing factors but one of those is not having the facilities available."
Young is still determined, however, to defend his Junior Champion title.
"Before my brother (Clayton) left for university we moved some rocks in the river to help practice," Sebastian said. "At home we set up slalom gates on the dam to train on flat water."
Tomorrow competitors hit the Clarence River in Grafton for the flatwater section of the championships. Whitewater events take place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.