Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

History Snippet – Paddling in the times of COVID Lockdown


Whilst interviewing Wayne Cook recently, we unearthed a wonderful gem he was very keen to show us all. This find, whatever it is, came in response to the simple question;” Are you still paddling?

Wayne responded: “As a result of COVID I have been a bit hamstrung. However, I’ve been paddling one of Zoli’s paddling machines instead”. Wayne trained under Zoli for a good number of years and duly purchased one of his fantastic machines, which is still intact."

paddle machineclose up

It transpires that Zoli, who was an engineer by profession, cleverly designed and constructed his own paddling machine which “really just works with a rope on a barrel. It's very mechanical, he over-designed it, so it never wears out. It is bulletproof”. All it needs is an occasional drop of oil on the bearing and a new sash cord annually. The resistance can be varied by using larger or smaller blades on the ‘fan’ on the end of the spindle.




Wayne reckons it is:” One of Best investment I've ever made, it was $150 when I bought it. I think it's better than those modern ‘ergos’ as it's a much closer simulation to paddling a kayak.”


Evidently there used to be one at the club which sat out on the upper-level balcony. Wayne recalls an episode when he arrived there one night;” I think it was a Friday night, and it was pouring rain and cold, Joe Alia had pushed it inside, and had it set up under the gas heaters there. There was Joe sitting inside on the thing with all the heaters blasting. I can still remember him on the paddling machine, yeah”

Wayne was Neil Grierson’s paddling partner for many decades, and it seems Neil’s wicked sense of humour ‘pursues’ Wayne still, even on the ‘T&T’.


Question: Where is the club ‘T&T’ today?

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