Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

Canoe catching and the finer art of survival

The TK2 relay change

There are few things in normal life that can create apprehension: your daughter learning to drive in your car, in traffic, the arrival of a letter from the ATO in the middle of the year, and  an email from the Head of Middle School asking to see you about an "issue"

These events create mild anxiety when compared to seeing the focused stares, the straining muscles of teenage boys pulling on their paddles, in their weapon of choice,- a TK2 barreling towards you at breakneck speed whist you, caught chest deep in Murray water, with feet sunk firmly into clay shout in vain above the encouragement of other parents who are safe on the river bank, "slow down! SLOW DOWN!"

To no avail. You now know what it is like to be a deer in headlights or your shoe caught on a railway track as the horn of an oncoming train sounds SO close...

Everything begins to move in slow motion for a moment as the TK2 systematically starts plucking parents from their immovable positions like skittles

The first catcher is really the sacrificial one. He grabs the front of the boat as the boys continue to get that one last power stroke in. He doesn't stand a chance. To let go is not an option. He clings on for dear life as he now becomes part of the boat and takes out the second catcher at waist height. 

The boat for a brief moment looks as though it may be slowing down but it is too early to say. 

With paddles flailing it shoots passed the middle 2 men, whose role it is to stabilize the boat once it has come to a stop and to assist the changeover of paddlers.

Catcher number 1 is now well passed these 2 men, clinging to the boat, with eyes closed, face grimacing and mandatory white panama hat askance, taking them off just above their knees.

Will this Beast ever stop? Will the paddlers stop paddling,- please! 

And yet it still moves.

There is, however, still one last hope. 

The last catcher. 

The one who has done this before. 

The one who is the All Knowing. 

That is why he is the last man in the queue. 

He waits for the arrival of the Beast, with the confidence gleaned from being catcher number 1 in years gone by...

By this time the friction of parent debris hanging off the boat, makes the Beast give up it's last gasp of forward movement, and it shudders to a stop.

The moment explodes into an energy fueled concoction of splashing water, sweaty boys,  paddles, water bladders, shouting.

The next paddling pair are shoehorned into the boat, and as they get their balance they thrust and pull their way free of inertia, with encouraging shouts from parents urging them on

Relative silence returns. 

A quick stocktake to see if there is any serious damage to life or limb

"That went well" someone says...

The front catcher is always quiet at this stage as he hobbles on to dry land, to the safety of his spouse, and the comfort that the Esky can offer.

He is already scheming how he can become Catcher 4 the next day...

Peter Niemandt


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