Celebrating a decade on the Lakes

Celebrating a decade on the Lakes

The Gippsland Lakes Paddle Challenge is a signature event for East Gippsland and is considered Victoria’s premier paddle event.

It will celebrate a decade on the Lakes on May 2, 2020, when a variety of craft will power their way across Australia’s largest inland waterway.

The inaugural event in 2011 had 30 starters. It has since grown to become the largest multi-craft paddling event in Victoria with more than 150 paddlers competing in recent years.

Craft eligible to participate include surf skis, outrigger canoes, ocean racing skis, sit on top kayaks, Hobie kayaks, sea kayaks, stand up paddle (SUP) boards, prone paddle boards, canoes, surf boats, St Ayles skiff and coastal rowing boats.

Paddlers from across the country will paddle to support the Lakes Entrance Surf Lifesaving Club’s annual fundraiser with a variety of categories and age sections to suit most paddlers and two courses for the elite and recreational paddlers.

The 27-kilometre challenge begins in Paynesville while the 13km challenge sets off from Metung. The Paynesville paddlers will mix with the Metung competitors, the two groups going on to finish at the iconic Lakes Entrance footbridge.

“If you are fortunate enough you will be sharing the Lakes with an abundance of wildlife, with kangaroos and goats watching on from the water’s edge, birdlife from above and swimming alongside a variety of marine fish including seals and the Gippsland Lakes Burrunan dolphins,” event organiser, Paul King, said.

“It truly is more than just a race, it’s an event that is capturing the hearts of all who participate.”

‘The Mates Challenge’ category, which is becoming extremely popular, follows the Metung course to be contested on a twoperson sit-on-top kayak. Participants can be as young as 10 years of age if on a two-person sit-ontop kayak, but must paddle with an adult. All other categories start at 15 years of age.

You can also use your own craft for this category, but if you don’t have one, single and two-person sit-on-top will be for hire. They are extremely stable and come complete with paddles and life jackets and free paddle sessions prior to the event. They will be delivered to the start line and collected at the end of the challenge. Surf skis are also available for both courses.

A terrific pool of donated prizes will see every entrant go into a lucky draw to win a prize - no matter what place you finish.

There will be two major prizes to choose from for this celebration event - an inflatable SUP board, which comes complete with a backpack carry bag, pump and repair kit and valued at $1500, or a $1500 gift voucher towards a surf ski.

The challenge can be reversed or relocated should there be adverse weather or rescheduled to the following day if required.

Water safety is a priority with nine rescue craft spread out over the course.

The lucky draw, presentations and a spit roast meal will be held at the Lakes Entrance Surf Lifesaving Cub following the event.

Online registration opens on January 6 and closes on April 28.

All enquiries can be made on the event website or Facebook page.

If businesses are interested in supporting the event, contact the event organisers.

The paddle challenge will be making a major announcement in regard to this year’s event in late January.

IMAGE: Paddlers hit the water at Metung for the 2019 Gippsland Lakes Paddle Challenge. 2020 marks the 10th year of the event and it is expected to draw in more than 150 competitors once again. K563-75