STANDING looking at white rushing water over protruding rocks with nothing but a fibreglass boat in hand might make most of us feel some trepidation.
Perhaps the overwhelming feeling would be that there was absolutely no need to ride down the river.
But not for pilot Kris Parnell, who with partner Tyron Wilson, are the only people to ever make it down the Avon Descent in under two hours.
Taking after his father, who holds the 1991 eight horsepower dinghy standard record, Mr Parnell definitely has white water rafting in his veins.
"Dad raced in the late 1980s, early 1990s, when I was 10 or younger, and I grew up following him down the river," Mr Parnell said.
"When I was old enough to race myself, I was just finishing up with school and then going away with flying so I never really got the chance to have a crack when I was 17."
When Mr Parnell returned to Perth in 2015, one of the first things he did was sign up for the Power Dinghy Racing Club and competed in his first race in 2016.
Mr Parnell and Mr Wilson took out their first outright win last year, and with high water helping them down the river they were also able to break the previous record.
They are busy preparing for this year's event on August 13 and 14 - and will be among 700 expected competitors for the epic challenge's 49th iteration.
Their sub-two hour record stands at one hour, 59 minutes and 30 seconds, which Mr Parnell said was "a pretty cool milestone".
"We knew that it was going to be a record, we didn't know it was going to be under two hours," he said.
"There was a fair bit of time in the previous record, which was broken in 2018, because the guys who broke that record had flipped.
"So we knew that if we got through clean we would break that record."
Born and raised in the country, Mr Parnell's family are wheat and sheep farmers from east of Narrogin and now have a tree nursery at Tincurrin.
After graduating from high school, he left the country to view things from the air, working full-time as a pilot for Virgin Australia.
When COVID-19 restricted air travel, Mr Parnell took the opportunity to return to his roots and work on a farm.
"A mate of mine rang from Wickepen and asked if I would be interested in driving a harvester, obviously they were all fairly short on labour," he said.
"About eight months of 2020 we were out of the air, so I jumped at the chance to go out and drive a harvester on a modern-day farm.
"It was a good experience.
"I really loved it, I enjoyed the whole of 2020, I hadn't had much of a break from flying for more than six weeks since 1997, so it was a really great opportunity to try new things.
"I loved getting back to the farm, it was cool, catching up with all my old mates.
"You can go out and visit, but working out there you are actually immersing yourself in the community and it was a cool experience."
Despite Mr Parnell and his dad competing in similar events, he said there was no rivalry between the two for who would ultimately conquer the river.
"Dad is pretty supportive of the whole event, we have a bit of a laugh every now and then," Mr Parnell said.
"The boats have come a long way since then, we are not quite going double the speed, but it's not a contest to what they used to race back in the day to the modern boats now.
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"He's really involved with the racing and with the camping, so he's been a big part of the racing journey."
For spectators who watch the Avon Descent, it is easy to assume Mr Parnell achieved a record time with ease.
But behind the scenes, he undergoes months of preparation to know the river like the back of his hand and to have a boat best equipped for it.
"We build our own boats," he said.
"They are all custom built in our own sheds, made out of fibreglass and a bit of carbon fibre and a bit more modern materials these days.
"The preparation mainly revolves around building the boats and preparing our race kit."
Prior to the race, Mr Parnell will analyse the river and map the full 124 kilometre stretch.
"We do a huge amount of study and preparation with the river as well, whether that be video review study, we get out and paddle quite a lot with kayaks just to learn every rock, every channel and every tree in that river," he said,
"When you get there on race day you know exactly where you're going."
The Avon River is reported to be low this year with a limited amount of rain on the horizon, which makes the descent more difficult, however this adds to the anticipation of the event," said Avon Descent board chairman Greg Kaeding.
"I am looking forward to some exciting racing, the water is up and down at the moment, but the good thing is the water is giving people a lot of opportunity to practise and do a bit of training which is fabulous," Mr Kaeding said.
"We are going to have some nice flowing water for the event, we don't expect big water, we do expect good water."
Mr Parnell said it was nice to have a strong connection with the farming community, as he hopes for rain as much as they do.
"We are hoping for some more rain in the next few weeks to get the levels up, but that's the beauty of the Avon, the motto was 'hell or high water' a few years ago, so we'll send it no matter what the levels are," Mr Parnell said.
"Obviously with higher water there are less obstacles, but the challenges just change, that's the beauty of the race, it's never the same.
"When it's low, and when it's extremely low, there is a fair bit of dragging and you can't jump the rocky sections, you have to get out and drag the boats down and try to get going in the deep water again."
The excitement is building for this year's Avon Descent and Mr Parnell said there was definitely a bit of pressure to "back up" the results.
Mr Kaeding echoed this excitement for "one of the great, if not the greatest, adventure in Western Australia".
"It's absolutely spectacular," Mr Kaeding said.
"What people have got to realise is that there are competitors in there from the everyday, average Joe Bloggs, who has a moderate level of fitness and just wants to have a crack and maybe do one of the short courses events, then you have the genuine marathoners, who are really keen to complete the whole 124 kilometre decent.
Mr Kaeding said that anyone thinking about undertaking the Avon Descent should give it a go, as there was a distance for every ability.
"We have single day events where they can participate over a short course distance or participate as a team of four in a relay, so they only do 30km over two days," Mr Kaeding said.
"There is a distance for everybody, and if you're a family there are opportunities for families to participate as a team event.
"There is obviously an opportunity for the elite athletes to demonstrate their ability.
"We have some amazing records that have been undertaken over the previous years.
"There is an opportunity for everybody."
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