By Rebecca Peppiatt
The Avon Descent kicks off today in Northam with the Bilya Festival from 5pm, marking the start of the iconic 124km race.
Power boats and paddle craft will hit the water for the annual white water event from Saturday.
The race traverses the Avon River from Northam, through Toodyay and Middle Swan, down to Bayswater.
For Roland Turner, 43, and step-daughter Elsie Leonard, 15, from Stratton, the competition is the most prestigious on the power boat race calendar.
“It’s like the flagship race because everyone knows about it and gets involved in it,” said Roland who is competing for the third time.
Power boaters are responsible for building their own rigs and this year Roland asked the kids from My World Midvale to decorate his with liquid chalk that he later sealed.
The results mean he and Elsie will be standing out from the crowd of 38 starters in the ‘standard’ section and are currently sitting in third place after last weekend’s time trials.
“With the higher than usual water levels you’ve got a flat, 15m-wide river you can tear down flat stick doing 60km an hour,” he said.
“But when you get to the big obstacles, if you fall out over the rapids, there’s a very big chance of injury.
“The rest will be an all out drag race.”
Also taking part in the two-day event for the first time in 20 years will be some members of the Australian Army’s 13th Brigade who, although not competing, will be showcasing their amphibious skills on the river.
Day one of the race on Saturday sees the action focussed on the town of Toodyay which will be hosting an international food festival and family fun day.
Day two, on Sunday, makes Caversham the focus of the entertainment with the City of Swan’s Avon Descent Festival taking place at Lilac Hill Park.
Full details and best vantage points for spectators can be found at www.avondescent.com.au