Yeppoon paddlers set for special George Bass journey

Seven ski paddlers from the coastal town of Yeppoon, Central Queensland, are set to compete in the George Bass marathon from December 28-January 4.

Paddler Richard Newton said he would carry the ashes of his buddy, Keno - a fellow paddler who died recently.

The group of men, all over the age of 50, train together to compete in different endurance events across the country.

"We're just a bunch of blokes who pick an event that suits," he said.

"We have been together for 10 years. It keeps us training and our minds healthy."

The seven-day race from Batemans Bay to Eden has been named the world's longest.

Ski paddlers complete the whole 200km solo - this does not shake the Yeppoon paddlers.

"It's all about the journey for us, we aren't coming down to be competitive," Newton said.

For them, it will be a race in memory of Kiernan "Keno" Gettinby who died six weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

"We are bringing him with us," Newton said.

"It will be a celebration of who he was.

"Keno was discreetly the hardest worker in the room.

"He wasn't the fittest or strongest, he tried so hard to keep up."

Keno was too kind to ever be a target during group banter.

"He was one of those blokes where you couldn't take the piss out of him because he was too nice of a fella," Newton said.

GREAT MEMORIES: Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club crew for the George Bass in 2016. The late Keno is pictured at centre front.

GREAT MEMORIES: Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club crew for the George Bass in 2016. The late Keno is pictured at centre front.

George Bass organisers have designated a gps tracker for Keno so his family can track the journey online.

In 2016, they competed in the Bass as a surf boat crew.

"The first one was an opportunity for all of us to go - we had such a good time," Newton said.

The crew planned to row the Bass again, but their sweep pulled out. So they decided to jump on the surf skis.

"It was pretty much one in, all in," Newton said.

There's a long drive ahead, but the paddlers are excited.

"It's a very rare seven-day event; instead of travelling kilometres for one event that's done within 24hrs, the seven days makes it worthwhile," Newton said.

"Everyone's excited, although it's a big drive down - a solid two days.

"By the time we get there, the event's more the party," he laughed.

The paddlers

  • Richard Newton
  • Max Bennett
  • Mark Murray
  • Gary Wilkins
  • Murray Osbourne
  • Bill Robinson
  • Phil Stubbs

Strength: If one's in - all are in. They have strength in numbers.

Weakness: Age. Giant iced coffees with a ridiculous amount of calories.

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