Frank Harrison Memorial Race
The Mitta Mitta Canoe Club began in February 1974 as a white water club, mainly touring and slalom. Frank and his wife, Fran were involved soon after that inaugural meeting.
In 1976, Frank designed and built the Dart, a white water kayak, fitted out with systems from England. Darts can still be seen in use today.
When the Dartmouth Dam was built in 1979 it had a profound effect on the rivers accessed by the club and many of the original members of the club drifted away or left the sport in disgust.
From 1979 the club became a marathon club (the first Australian Marathon Championships were held in 1981 on the Murray River from Yarrawonga to Cobram)
Frank Harrison continued his involvement with the club, designing and building canoes and paddles for marathon racing. He also designed and built TK1’s, some of which are still used today and are especially good for beginners.
Frank was particularly supportive of young people, sponsoring junior races. He inaugurated the David Champion Race after the tragic death of David Champion whilst white water paddling. The race was to be competitive, but also to introduce young people, especially scout groups to the safety and joy of canoeing. It was a 14kms race downstream from Mungabareena Reserve to Noreuil Park, very similar to the course of the current Junior event.
The original Albury race began in 1979 and was the first race on the VACA calendar and was run from the Weir Wall to Albury in winter. These races were soon after cancelled because there is traditionally little water in the Murray during winter.
The second version of the Albury Race was staged in 1985. It was run in summer and was a two day event, upstream and back from Noreuil Park It was much harder and longer than it is today.
In 1986 this two day event was called the “Milo Marathon”, it was sponsored by Milo and was very competitive with about 30 K1 paddlers.
“K” and “C” trophy for this Frank Harrison event were made by John Ferguson and are still presented at today’s Albury races.
The format of the race was finally changed to downstream from the Weir Wall to Noreuil (26kms) probably to accommodate the touring boat paddlers who found the upstream course too challenging and long.
After Frank’s death in 1990 The Albury Race was named the Frank Harrison memorial Race to honour the long association and wonderful contribution Frank and his wife Fran had with the Mitta Mitta Canoe Club.
The Frank Harrison Trophy is presented to the winning TC2 each year, the TC2 being the boat that Frank specialised in designing and building. This year the trophy will be awarded to any “C” boat.