Lifestart Kayak for Kids 2009 Post-Event Report

Records broken for the second edition!

A flotilla of kayaks of all shapes and sizes took part in Kayak for Kids 2009 on Sunday 29 March for Lifestart’s annual fundraising event on Sydney Harbour. And what a gorgeous day it was! With sunshine and blue skies, things went amazingly well for the over 470 paddlers participating, two and a half times more than the previous inaugural year!

The surf skis and other crafts built for speed easily covered the 17.5km course to arrive at Clontarf Beach in a record time of 1:26 with Team SleepMonsters (Steve Cooper & Paul Lancaster) winning the overall event and the male double surf ski category. Fellow PaddleNSW board members Tony Hystek and Tim Hookins shared the podium for the male single surf ski category with a time of 1 hour and 29 minutes: looks like so much time spent together at the club made them inseparable on the water as well! They were followed a little later by Team Kai and the Wild Things made up of former Olympian Shelley Oates-Wilding and her 11 year-old son Kai who very impressively completed the race in 1:49 winning the mixed double surf ski category!

For those out there to enjoy the scenery a bit more, and particularly for the teams of 4 to 12 members relaying the distance at the three checkpoints along the way – Little Sirius Cove, Clifton Gardens and Balmoral Beach – this was an amazing way to experience iconic Sydney Harbour! Starting in the morning a little after 9am, waves of paddlers began this glorious day by going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, after passing the smiley face at Luna Park. Then it was on to views of the majestic Opera House followed by the secluded coves and secret beaches of Mosman shoreline. At Chowder Bay paddlers were dwarfed by a massive naval craft that was refuelling and Obelisk Beach stayed true to its reputation of lack of bathing suits! As expected Middle Head turned out to be the biggest challenge for all paddlers with one crew saying “I was a touch outside my comfort zone”! Competitors had nothing to worry about though as Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, Australian Volunteer Coast Guards, Maritime NSW, Water Police as well as surf life saving clubs and motor boats from Manly Boat and Kayak Centre, Manly Sailability, Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club and private supporters kept a watchful eye over all and helped the few that went and tasted the water back on their boat in no time. And despite the many teams choosing shark-related names, such as Shark Bait, Is that a shark? or Sharky Snacks, no “big fish” sighting was reported! The competitors then went around the head and into picturesque Balmoral Beach where the annual Balmoral Swim was under way, before launching into the crossing of Middle Harbour and landing at Clontarf Beach for a run finish under the arch.

Cr Jean Hay, Mayor of Manly welcomed the finishers to Clontarf Reserve, the event’s hub where participants were treated to Segafredo coffee, fruit, Endura sports drink and Baiada kebabs cooked by the volunteers from Manly Lions Club to refuel after their effort on the water. The prize presentation recognised not only the fastest paddlers, but most importantly the biggest fundraisers for Lifestart. The best individual at this game was Chris Breach with $2,500 raised at the time of the event, funds which will be matched by the Macquarie Foundation. Chris, as Managing Director, Macquarie Asset Services Ltd. – the event’s principal sponsor and presenter of the Lifestart Corporate Challenge – came back to the podium, to award the Corporate Challenge Cup to the winning team: Is that a shark? with members James Hunter, Georgette Stanton, Simon O’Donnell, Duncan Gamble, Marianne Zsifko, Andrew Haigh, John Bartlertt, Peter Ludemann and Alexandra Mitchell from company HTM Wilson a perpetual trophy recognising both the sport and the fundraising accomplishment for a corporate team. Is that a shark? also proved to be the best fundraising team with $8,774. Lifestart’s Christopher Cummings and CEO Andrew Wilson handed out medals, trophies and event rashies while some sponsors had provided great prizes: Solution, Vibram FiveFingers, and Chirosports. Thank you also to our other sponsors: pb Sports gels, Be Natural bars, Franklin for donating the fruit, Banana Boat sunscreen, SleepMonsters and Water Magazine who all helped make this event a success in their own way.

Noteworthy is team Sharky Snacks who very generously donated the Dagger Safari kayak they won back to Lifestart to put it up for auction at an upcoming fundraising party. At the time this release was written, $90,000 had been raised for Lifestart, a community organization which provides services for children aged from birth to six who have an intellectual disability or developmental delay, such as Down Syndrome and Autism. Let’s hope this doesn’t stop there with fundraising open on the Everyday Hero website and offline directly through Lifestart until 24 April 2009! Although no firm date has been announced yet, the third edition of Lifestart Kayak for Kids is confirmed for 2010, so anyone interested can start their paddling training!