Firstly, I would like to thank Mike & Pete for giving up so much of their midday time for a fairly lengthy meeting. Also thanks to Richard & Jodie for helping to make all the pieces fit together. And how many pieces there are!

Just so it’s easy for your eyes to focus on the nitty gritty, this is the schedule for the GCU Marathon Champs (Saturday – the K1 day).

8:00 – Guppy race. (U8, U10, U12)
9:30 – U18 Men, U23 Men, Senior Men, Sub Vet Men, Vet Men, Master Men. — as you can see this is all Men from U18 to 50.
9:32 – U14 (all), U16 (all), U18 Ladies, all other Ladies, all Men older than the ‘Master’ category.

So there you have the schedule for quick reference but there are copious ’notes’ which are:

We’ve swopped the Guppy race around and I feel very strongly about this. Initially it was after the main races but I want the little guys front-and-centre, and not at the end when everyone’s tired and heading home. While the adult paddlers are milling around, and chewing the fat, and getting their pre-race admin done, is a perfect time to have the Guppy race. There’s also less wind early in the morning. Please give the Guppy paddlers a LOT of encouragement. A few positive words cost absolutely nothing and can – and usually do – have a profound effect.

The U14 and U16 paddlers do a reasonable distance so having them as a separate race, and waiting for them to finish, is way too time consuming but, over and above that, I *absolutely* think they should be incorporated into the main event. I am a firm believer in the fact that we’re all part of the same family and our future strength is directly linked to having our young paddlers ‘in the bunches’ because it is there where all the real learning takes place. Having said that: if you find yourself in a competitive bunch, and rounding a tight turning-can, or approaching a take-out, please just do the right thing. We do not want to traumatise our young paddlers; we want to them to be encouraged, welcomed, and to grow.

On to the adults. Oi Vey!  Dudes! If you take both genders, and all age groups over U18, you have nearly 20 ‘groupings’ of paddlers. There is no way you can, or should, spilt them. This might happen at a much larger event where there are lots of paddlers, but not at ERK. Two paddlers going off alone because they just happen to be the only two 95 year-old, blue-eyed, left-handed, botanists, is not a race. It’s just two people sluiping along and having an easy paddle. Mike, Pete, and I, have discussed this at length. Our objectives are a) to pick the strongest possible team and b) by extension, improve the standard of our paddling. The essence of that is competition as in *competition*. Paddlers have to cope with starts and mid-race jostling. There’s just no way you can be competitive if you can’t do that, so creating ‘easy’ starts is counter productive and we’re undermining ourselves.

BUT we understand the concerns. Putting an anxious U14 under Ham’s armpit at the start is even more counterproductive. The little guy will give up the sport on the spot. There’s coping with realistic pressure – which is good – and throwing unrealistic pressure at someone which is bad. So we have thought very carefully of who goes where and we acknowledge that there is no sweet spot where everyone is 100% comfortable. In fact, being 100% comfortable means that nobody is feeling pressure – which is, in fact, bad. The 9:30 group  and 9:32 group are comprised of paddlers who will feel pressure but should be able to cope.

Distances: I’ve deliberately not put down distances yet because we’re not 100% sure of what they are. Jodie has sent out a mail to the School’s League paddlers but her distances are slightly long. We’re going to have adjust those. The exact distances will be sent out later but, broadly speaking, the 9:32 starters will do a lap less than the 9:30 starters and, within that later grouping, it will split further. The U14’s and U16’s will stop on the lap closest to the SA Champs distances. But, as I say, I will send an exact table out later.

Paddlers older than 65 do not portage.



ps – I forgot. The Sunday K2 day does not have a Guppy race so the start will move to 9:00am (as opposed to Saturday’s 9:30).