From racing crocs to the mighty Murray
PADDLING: Five members of Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club's men's surf boat crew will tomorrow embark on one of the world's longest paddling races.
Richard Newton, Max Bennett, Gary Wilkins, Mark Murray and Kevin Ohl will take on the Massive Murray Paddle, a five-day event which covers 404km from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill.
It was a hard-luck story for Keenan Gettinby, the sixth crew member who contracted influenza A last week and had to withdraw.
Richard said the six men had been training for six months in preparation for the marathon paddle.
"Mark Murray did it last year and he talked us all into doing it this year,” Richard said.
"We didn't need much convincing after we did the George Bass Marathon, a 200km surf boat race in New South Wales, last year.
"It's good to have like-minded people around and we all saw it as another adventure, another one of those things we could tick off the bucket list.
"Max and Kevin have never been on a surf ski before so it was a steep learning curve for them just to get to the start line.”
Newton said the training had been an adventure in itself.
"We have had encounters with whales and dolphins whilst paddling to and from North Keppel and other islands throughout the Keppels,” he said.
"On one trip from Thompson's Point to Rockhampton on the Fitzroy River we encountered two very large crocodiles, making it a very quick 32km paddle.”
Richard said each of the men was looking forward to the paddle but appreciated it would be a physical and mental challenge.
"The hardest thing will be getting up each morning and knowing you have to go again. Tuesday will probably be the toughest day for that reason after we've done close to 100km on Monday.
"The first two days are the biggest and then you're on the downhill run.
"We're all excited and keen to give it a good crack.”
The paddle is also designed to raise funds for local community programs and the men have raised more than $6000 for the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club.
THE GRUELLING SCHEDULE
Monday: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal, 93km
Tuesday: Tocumwal to Picnic Point, 94km
Wednesday: Picnic Point to Echuca, 78km
Thursday: Echuca to Torrumbarry, 62km
Friday: Murrabit to Swan Hill, 77km