Paddling onto the world stage

HOBART’S Kate Eckhardt will be forming part of a Tasmanian duo jetting off to Europe to compete on the world stage.

The Derwent Valley Canoe Club paddler, alongside teammate Daniel Watkins, will form part of the Australian Canoe Slalom Senior Team and Australian Canoe Slalom Under 23 Team.

They will compete on the 2016 Rio Olympic paddling course as part of the 2018 World Canoe Slalom Championships, as well as race in Canoe Slalom World Cup series races in Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain.

Derwent Valley Canoe Club commodore Peter Eckhardt said it was a “very impressive achievement” for the two local paddlers to be competing overseas.

He said the duo had been training hard at Woodwards Canal, a 400-metre long, 15-metre wide water canal running from Bronte Lagoon to Brady’s Lake in the Central Highlands.

“Kate and Dan’s training consists of 12 paddling sessions a week, as well as weight training at the Tasmanian Institute of Sport,” he said.

“They are both homegrown Tasmanian champions and it’s great to see them representing the state on a world stage.”

Mr Eckhart said the Woodwards Canal site had gone a long way in helping them reach an international level.

He said the popular canoeing, slalom and down river racing location was currently undergoing major civil work developments to restore it to a world class training facility thanks to a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund.

The development works involve reconstruction of the canal walls, improvements to the “Cruncher” and the building of groynes to lift the water level.

“The Woodwards Canal course has been used in the past for international events and training,” Mr Eckhardt said.

“With more than 350 regular users, it is known internationally as one of the most exciting and challenging venues but, due to degradation, is no longer as desirable as a location for high level events.

“But thanks to the assistance of the Tasmanian Community Fund, we are now restoring this site to a world-class training facility.

“This has gone a long way in helping our paddlers Kate and Daniel train for their world championship events and is also very timely for the 2019 Australian Canoe Slalom Championships, which will be held at the venue in January.”

Tasmanian Community Fund chairperson Sally Darke said the Woodwards Canal developments would improve the overall safety of the location and open it up to a wider range of paddlers.

“The canal is now much more useable and safe for less experienced paddlers, but also has more features to challenge and improve the skills of higher performance paddlers,” she said.

“Hopefully, this will result in more visitors to this world-class facility, which of course will be a great boost for the local economy.

“It’s also great to see that these improved features are actively helping local competitors like Kate and Daniel reach the world stage in their chosen sport.”

Eckhardt and Watkins will be competing overseas until August.

The Tasmanian Community Fund was established in 1999 following the sale of the Trust Bank.

An independent funding body, the Fund provides grants to community organisations that make a difference by improving the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the Tasmanian community.

For more information on how to apply for TCF grants and to view grant recipients visit www.tascomfund.org

Caption: Derwent Valley Canoe Club paddlers Kate Eckhardt, of Hobart, and Daniel Watkins, of Huonville, at the Woodwards Canal site.

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