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Tasmanian Canoe Club says rescue kayaker at Wilmot River was experienced

RESCUE MISSION: The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was deployed to find the kayaker. Picture: Tasmania Police
RESCUE MISSION: The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was deployed to find the kayaker. Picture: Tasmania Police

The man winched to safety after spending the night in zero degree weather at Wilmot River in northern Tasmania, when he was separated from his kayak, has been called experienced but unlucky.

Tasmanian Canoe Club member Daniel Harris said the two kayakers had the knowledge and experience to take on the "world class river" by kayak on Sunday.

"Those guys are both experienced, really competent and had the right gear," Mr Harris said.

"It was just a bit of bad luck."

Mr Harris said he would happily go on those rivers with the pair and that the kayakers both from the Tasmanian North-West Coast and experienced.

"There's maybe a dozen people on my list that I'd go on the river with, and they're definitely on that."

Tasmania Police Search and Rescue Senior Constable Joshua Peach echoed that the rescued 20-year-old man had been experienced and was well prepared.

"This gentleman is very experienced," Senior Constable Peach said.

"I don't think what he did was dangerous. It's just misadventure, these things happen to the most experienced people."

He said the kayaker's companion had alerted emergency services at 4pm on Sunday.

These guys are both experienced, really competent and had the right gear.

Daniel Harris

Senior Constable Peach said the man had reported spending a short period of time in the water.

"He was able to self rescue and he was then on quite a steep rocky corner of the river... and he was certainly unable to climb out due to the steepness of the gorge."

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He said the Westpac Rescue Helicopter had been deployed that night, but the dark conditions were unsuitable for the search.

"At 6am this morning, we departed again for the area with the intention of arriving on the scene at first light, which we did.

"After a very brief search in the Wilmot River, we first found the kayak.

"And then about three-to-five minutes after that we saw the 20 year old male... saw him clinging to rocks, waving for help."

He said a winch operation recovered the man, who was flown to Devonport airport where he was met by an ambulance and was treated for mild hypothermia.

Senior Constable Peach said it had been "pretty rough water", being grade four rapids.

He said the pair had intended to paddle north from Lake Gardner to Spellmans Bridge and had ran into trouble about halfway along the trip.

Senior Constable Peach said the man didn't have a personal locator beacon.

"The message to anyone embarking on outdoor activities, particularly whitewater rafting, it's important to carry a PLB on your person incase you become separated from the group or your kayak."

This story See the moment an experienced kayaker is rescued after 'bad luck' on world class river first appeared on The Advocate.