Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

Danish arrivals at FCC

Denmark has been very much in the news recently, as on January 14th, King Frederik and “our” Queen Mary ascended to the throne of Denmark. However, those conversant with the ‘comings and goings’ of our club will be aware that two young Danish paddlers, Anton and August, have been joining us here at FCC for some months now. Sadly, they are about to return home to Denmark.

The historians amongst our readers will also know that we have three history making Danes resident in our clubhouse already, in fact they have been with us for many years indeed!

The first is the Struer C2 ‘Regatta’ currently hanging in the clubhouse which was an example of the racing canoes of the time. The Struer company, founded in 1947 in Denmark, specialised in timber constructed canoes and kayaks and this C2 was probably the most expensive purchase for the club outside the actual building in which it is housed.

One of our Danish visitors, Anton Engelholm, views our 67 year-old Dane

Australian Canoe/Kayak team - 1956 Olympics



This Struer C2 was used by Reuben Collins (FCC) and Keith Jackson (FCC) who were the reserve crew to Tom Ohman (FCC) and Bill Jones (Essendon CC) who paddled an identical C2 in the sprint events on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (see previous History Snippet Keith Jackson – the follow-up to his mother’s knitted FCC jumpers. - Fairfield Canoe Club).






There is more, as I discovered one day when I was looking at boats stored below with Kevin Hannington and George Wakim. George got excited pointing up to a top rack; “This boat my brother bought, I am pretty sure this will have been the last Struer C1 made & they call it the ’Armageddon’.”


A photo of an "Armageddon" - source and history at Struer Kayaks https://www.struerkajak.com/products/c1-racing-amageddon-1999

Bass Wakim has since confirmed the purchase of his “Armageddon”.

“I was an official at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. I was called a ‘technical official’. It was a volunteer position. I was involved in all sorts of things, from measuring boats to ushering athletes to drug testing, to keeping the media out, to be on our boat to take the athletes to the area. So, it was a great job. I did it for the rowing and canoeing as well. It was a good experience.

The good thing is I also got to see all the boats and we managed them. What they do at the Olympics is actually provide boats. Some people bring their own boats and then others can just pick what they want to use. So, all these boats were available. Plastex had a big range, and most people would use them. Struer had some of their new boats and there weren't many people using them, unfortunately, as they just ‘missed the boat’ a bit. It's a little bit like the Nokia phones when everyone (Ed. Other manufacturers), improved and they were a bit slow off the mark.

So, at the end of the Olympics, we found out that they were going to auction these boats. Any interested people could select the boat and put a number (bid) on it. Because I had inside information, I knew which boats were there and the one that I selected hadn't even been used at all. So during the Olympics no one even took that out. It was absolutely brand new, so I selected that one. I think there may have been two C1’s and a couple of C2’s and they also had the older style ones, the Delta and the Cheetah in the C1 and C2’s. Not the weird ones, but the traditional ones.

There is a story there.  I don't know if you remember that for the last few days of the canoe events at the Sydney Olympics there was a howling headwind and the programme kept getting put back. The waves were just too big. When they eventually ran the C2’s, could have been 500m,the smarter people actually took out the old style Struer C2’s which are wider and more buoyant, and they all got the placings while the newer narrow ones took on  too much water. So, there's still a time and place for the older style boats in heavy conditions. In 95% of cases the narrow ones have just taken over. Anyway, mine (boat) went up on this silent auction or electronic auction and I was lucky enough to win.”

We have a third Danish import in our storage area, a Struer C2 built for, and raced at Sydney Olympics. This boat was paddled to victory, as described by Bass, at the Sydney 2000 Olympics by Ferenc Novak and Imre Pulai (Hungary) for C2 500m.

Novák and Pulai were known as "The Monster and the Little Guy" because Pulai was 1.99 meters (6ft.6.25in.) tall and weighed 97kg (214lbs) while Novák was 1.72 meters (5ft.8in.) and weighed 77kg (170lbs). Pulai taped Novák's leg to the boat so that his partner would not fall to the high winds that took place on the day of the final. Bas Wakim and John Golino were the boat-weighing marshalls and confirm that the Hungarians were paddling the boat with the broken floorboard. We think Pulai broke it during the final race.  Enjoy this C2 final online at 2000 Sydney Olympic Canoeing Men's C-2 500 m - YouTube and see the Struer power to victory.

This boat marks the end of an era in sprint canoe design rules.

From 1936 until 2003, Sprint canoe dimensional rules included max length of C1 of 5.2m, max length C2 of 6.5m, and beam (minimum width) of all canoes to be 0.75m. There must be no concave surfaces anywhere on the hull, and the highest point of the deck construction must be the front edge of the cockpit.

Design and construction of sprint canoes and kayaks remained stable from 1948 to 1996, the top competition boats being constructed of plywood. From 1996 onwards, the use of composite materials allowed more geometrical flexibility, enabling compliance with the rules while minimising the waterline profile.

So, we farewell two young Danish paddlers, but retain three very special Danes ‘below decks’ in our clubhouse.


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