MUCH like a kid before Christmas, Darlington’s Brad Cuss is bursting with excitement as he prepares to fulfil a childhood dream to compete in the Avon Descent.
Racing in his self-built mini-jet, Mr Cuss is setting a new first for himself and the famous annual Avon River race as his line of boats hit the water under a new race category for the first time.
“The mini-jets don’t have a propeller or a gear box in the water like the powerboats,” he said.
“They are a true jet propulsion boat so there’s nothing below the hull of the boat making it very manoeuvrable at high and slow speed, and with a slick bottom they have the ability to slide over rocks and logs.”
The former street car racing champion started making the mini-jets commercially about 12 months ago after switching his wheels for a vehicle of a more buoyant nature.
Of the 17 mini-jets he has built, 11 are competing in this year’s Avon Descent.
“I grew up out in the Swan Valley on farms and as a kid I would always go and watch the race,” he said.
“I always wanted to compete and wanted to tick it off the bucket list.
“I’m so excited, crazy excited.”
While some wild weather across Perth had many ducking for cover this week, Mr Cuss said heavy rains had Avon Descent participants “dancing around like idiots”.
“Everyone is so excited, there’s such a cool energy around,” he said.
Registered as ‘boats’, the mini-jets can go anywhere other pleasure craft can and are an approved and managed racing category under Power Dinghy Racing Club regulations.
Avon Descent off and racing after wet weather
HEAVY rains are set to supercharge the 49th Avon Descent, on next weekend.
The annual 124km Northam to Bayswater adventure challenge sees participants race on a range of water crafts, from kayaks to powered dinghys and, for the first time this year, mini-jets.
Avon Descent chief executive Deborah Boxall said the race had changed and adapted much over the years.
“We want to be quite progressive and quite inclusive and start to look at what people are using and introduce them to the event,” she said.
“We want to make sure we can provide ways for new people to get involved and grow their interest and passion in the event.”
The first Avon Descent was held in 1973 with just 49 competitors, no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators.
Now, 49 years on, more than 35,000 people have participated, from novices and families, to World Champions and Olympic competitors.
“It’s quite a bucket list item for some people,” Ms Boxall said.
“Once you’ve done it you get the bug to keep doing it again every year.”
The race starts on August 13 in Northam and travels down river through Toodyay before stopping overnight at Cobbler Pool.
Day two is a whopping 72km starting with major white water obstacles at Emu Falls, Championship Rapids and Bells Rapids before flattening out with a marathon to Bayswater.
Festivals are being held in Northam on August 12, Toodyay August 13 and at Lilac Hill Park, Caversham and Bayswater on August 14.
By Claire Ottaviano