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September 2, 2010
The top paddlers this year are
expected to finish between the eight-
and 10-hour mark.
FLGOFF Montgomerie and CPL
Nicolle aim to finish in 15 hours, just
"Previously, I've finished around
the 16-hour mark," FLGOFF
Montgomerie says. "This time we will
have one another to motivate each
She says this is important.
"Especially when you start hallucinat-
ing -- seeing little green men -- with the
lack of sleep and exhaustion."
There will be a full moon for this
year's race which gives the women
hope there will be decent light.
CPL Nicolle, who is competing for
the first time, is mindful that several
creeks flow off the Hawkesbury and
some paddlers have been known to
lose their bearings in the dark and veer
Even more dangerous, says
FLGOFF Montgomerie, is a point not
far from the finish where there is a fork
in the river.
Go right, and you're nearly home.
Go left, and you're on the Colo
River -- but you might not know it until
you come to a bridge 6km up the river.
And if you're really persistent you
might end up in the Blue Mountains.
The women have a list of provi-
sions they will pack for the classic.
These include laminated river
maps, a compass, a small torch to read
the maps (they are not allowed to pad-
dle with it on all the time because it
could blind other paddlers), a whistle,
water and energy drinks, chocolate
bars, lollies and other motivating
energy food and an MP3 player and
As the newbie, CPL Nicolle has the
job of providing the play list.
There will be nothing too loud and
racy -- a bit of U2 and INXS and other
music from the 1980s and 90s. It's a
good thing they are musically compat-
ible.FLGOFF Montgomerie is already
focusing on the finish line.
She has two medallions on her
mantelpiece at home, testifying that
she has now finished the race twice.
There's no better feeling, she says,
than to reach that final pontoon and be
handed the bronze medallion.
THE classic is also a
fundraising event for the
Arrow Foundation, which
conducts research and
development into bone
To sponsor the
women, follow these links.
CPL Kirsten Nicolle:
In addition, the women
are running a raffle for
the cause, with the first
prize of $2500 worth of
The raffle will be
drawn at 3pm on
Saturday, October 23
before the race.
HE classic is also a
EN GUARDE: CPL Kirsten Nicolle, left, and FLGOFF Fiona Montgomerie have paddles and they're prepared
to use them on the Hawkesbury River.
WHEN FLGOFF Fiona
Montgomerie contested the
111km Hawkesbury Canoe
Classic for the first time she
ended up paddling 2km the wrong way
up the river.
That was two years ago and she can
laugh about it now -- but at the time,
when she was cold, damp and still
nearly 80km from the finish line, it
was not that funny.
FLGOFF Montgomerie had not got
off to a great start. Thirty-two kilome-
tres into the race she broke her steer-
ing trying to get her single-person sea
kayak free from mudflats.
That did not stop her but it did add
to the degree of difficulty as she got
back on course.
Her big mistake was stopping again
to eat a chocolate bar.
The Hawkesbury is a tidal river, it
was pitch dark and, unbeknown to her,
the tide turned the kayak right around.
FLGOFF Montgomerie paddled on,
"I remember thinking some of the
landmarks on the river bank looked
familiar," she says.
Two kilometres up the river, she
realised why. She stopped again and
using a small torch consulted her
waterproof map of the river. She
realised then she had to turn around.
Legitimately this time.
On October 23, FLGOFF
Montgomerie, a reservist nursing
officer from 2 Expeditionary Health
Squadron, will return to the race for
the third time. This time, however, she
will share a two-person kayak with
CPL Kirsten Nicolle, an avionic tech-
nician from 37SQN.
Like the other contestants in the
race, they'll be raising money for
Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant
Foundation, which is a cause close to
FLGOFF Montgomerie's heart. She
works as an intensive care registered
nurse in the public health system, and
sees a lot of patients who will benefit
from more money for bone marrow
The women began paddling togeth-
er early this year and found they gelled
well in the same boat together.
The race, from Windsor to the
Brooklyn Bridge at the mouth of the
Hawkesbury River, will have classes
for many styles and types of boats,
right up to outriggers and K4s.
The record is just over the seven-
hour mark, set in 1984.
Cheque this one out
WE AREN'T generally fans of pho-
tographs of big cheques here on the
sports desk, but this one is worthy of
exception because it's not just big, it's
And it's all destined to help sports
people across the Air Force.
Defence Health has given $45,000
to the Air Force Sports Council which
will boost funds available to sporting
teams to help pay for things such as
uniforms, equipment, hire of competi-
tion facilities and travel costs.
Each year up to 20 sports from
across the country, ranging from alpine
skiing to netball to the various football
codes, are assisted via both the Council
funds and Defence Health's contribu-
SPORT BOOST: AIRCDRE Philip Byrne, right, a board
member of Defence Health, presents CAF AIRMSHL Mark
Binskin with a cheque for $45,000. Since 2006 the Office
of the Chief of Air Force has staged a morning tea to thank
Defence Health for its contribution to the Air Force Sports
Photo: FSGT John Carroll
SPORT BOOST: AIRCDRE Philip Byr ne
right a board
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