YESTERDAY a pair of keen canoeists paddled nearly 100km from Ballina to Evans Head and back without ever crossing the same stretch of water twice.
Enthusiastic kayaker and author Steve Posselt, 61, along with world champion marathon kayaker Denise Cooper, 53, made the circumnavigation in a little less than 12 hours, leaving the Ballina Sailing Club at 5.20am.
Both are members of the Ballina Outrigger Canoe Club
Their first stop was four hours and 35km later, after battling early headwinds and dodging greybeards on the bar.
But the duo are just pleased to paddle and don’t mind the pain that comes with the pleasure.
“We like to go paddling,” said Steve, a former water engineer, accomplished adventure kayaker and author of the book Cry Me a River, which documented his eye-opening 3000km journey down the Murray Darling.
“And I’m happily led astray,” chimed in Denise, who declared that marathon canoeing was part of her make-up.
Back in the ’90s she won two world marathon kayaking championships in Europe and in 2001 she took out the 400km Murray River challenge with partner Leah Cook.
For both paddlers, the fact that no one has apparently paddled the 92km loop from Ballina to Evans Head and up to Woodburn and back down to Ballina, was something of a carrot.
Having said that, old Ernie Hyland from Ballina used to row his Gladstone Skiff from Ballina to Woodburn and back every Australia Day – a distance of 80km. His skiff hangs in the Ballina Maritime Museum.
But back to the paddlers – who chose as their craft a two-person outrigger canoe.
“They’re bloody uncomfortable things,” complained Steve.
“The seats are harder and more uncomfortable than a kayak. But at least you get to change sides, which is good for your body.”
Both Steve and Denise came to paddling later in life. For Denise it was in her late 20s and for Steve it was in his late 40s, after a running injury stopped him pounding the pavement.
And while protein shakes are Denise’s favourite sports drink on the water, Steve prefers iced tea – followed by a few cans of VB Gold when it’s all over.