The Murray River Awards [42]

Presented by David Winkworth

The Murray River Paddle took place in late March between Yarrawonga and Echuca. While not an ocean paddle for this sea kayaking club, it was nevertheless to date the longest open invitation paddle in duration and distance that this club has held… and it was fun too!

In honour of these milestones we approached various companies with the request that they sponsor a variety of awards for the participants. Unfortunately, on the Friday evening at the conclusion of the paddle, paddlers scattered everywhere and we were denied the opportunity to formally present the awards at an ‘End of Paddle’ dinner. So here, in no particular order, are ‘The Murray Awards’. “The envelopes please, my dear…”

Echuca Chamber Of Commerce Speed Award

For the highest average speed over a section, this award is shared by Jack Miller, Ross Fackerell, Andy Geering and Bruce Olsen. Collectively and colloquially known as the ‘Miller Misfits’, this group averaged 15.5 km/h on Day 5 of the paddle between Nine Panel Bend and Barmah. Such was their infectious (but unexplained) enthusiasm for speed on this particular day that a number of other paddlers securely fastened themselves to the Misfit’s collective wakes and recorded astonishing PB’s on the day. Word of the quartet’s feat quickly spread up river and numerous paddlers, including Gordon ‘The Don’ Carswell, joined them in Barmah for a lemon cordial toast to their success.

Greenpeace Award

The Greenpeace Award for the most imaginative solution to the blight of the semi-permanent caravans lining the river banks of the Barmah State Park goes to Bruce Olsen. The judges were unanimous that Bruce, an ex-NPWS manager, showed compassion and understanding for the problem in his submission, when recommending a .357 Magnum as the preferred calibre of weapon to be used.

CARP Award

CARP (Citizens Against Road Pavement) is a small anarchic group opposed to the RTA roll-out of freeways and tollways in NSW. Their award for this year is presented to Ross Winters, who, on day one of the paddle went the wrong way and didn’t go back! Ross wins a $20.00 open order to Boat Books (they sell good Murray River maps Ross)!

Pentax Australia Award

Graham Wykes wins the Pentax Australia Award for the ‘best effort’ with an expensive SLR camera. Originally intended as an award for the best photo of the trip, the judges were simply in awe of Graham’s work of endurance in carefully setting his camera on the riverbank, paddling downstream 14 km and then punching the current over a great many hours to return to the very spot where the camera was set for the 6 hour time exposure. Despite the over-exposure of the shot (totally white), the judges said Graham showed real talent in simply remembering where the camera was!

Australian Canoeing Federation Award

The Australian Canoeing Federation Award for the paddler most in need of stroke correction goes to Ed Watson. With this award comes $100.00 worth of personal tuition. The judges, after much deliberation, finally settled on a description of Ed’s forward stroke as “painful in the long term”.

Sigmund Freud Award

In an unprecedented move, the judges have also awarded Ed the Sigmund Freud Award. This award is a $200.00 cheque to the Australian Psychologists College to help correct his inferiority complex about poor paddling technique!

HAG Award

The HAG Award, presented by Sunsilk Australia, is shared this year by Robyn Culhane and Ann Wykes. The judges were again unanimous that both these women should share the award for their performance on the week-long paddle. In a footnote to the award, the judges pointed out that HAG is an unfortunate acronym and recommended a change for future years. HAG is in fact ‘Having A Go’. Well done to you both!

Liberal Party Award

Arunas Pilka wins the Liberal Party Award for a right-turning boat. The judges were impressed by the red and green navigation markings on Mr Pilka’s Greenlander and commented that the markings were visible well beyond their white picket fences! The judges denied claims that gifts to them in the form of ‘I’ve paddled with Arunas Pilka’ t-shirts influenced their decision.

Communist Party Award

The Communist Party Award was not won this year.

Golden Cob Award

The last award, affectionately known as the ‘Golden Cranky Old Bugger Award’, from Senator Bishop, Minister for Dept of Aged Affairs, has been awarded to Norm Sanders. The judges, in giving this award to Mr Sanders, commented that he appears to “have made this award his own”. The judges further noted that Mr Sanders’ well known fear of the Pittarak kayak bow appears to be turning toward retribution, following a complaint received from a Pittarak owner about an alleged “cowardly strike” from astern by Mr Sanders.