Finally recovering from a long weekend of Extreme Racing and Event organizing. The Kaituna Time Trial was the first event of the weekend. It entailed two race runs down the length of the Kaituna River (regular section) with your combined times adding up to give you your total time. I just missed a podium spot, finishing in 4th place, behind Vavra Hradilek(Olympic Silver Medalist) in first, Jamie Sutton (Sam Sutton's faster, younger brother) in second, and Kenny Mutton (Local racing guru) in third. Lu Urwin had a somewhat disapointing first lap when she found her self off line at a few places, however a smoking second run was quick enough to bring her back into a third place finish.
The Wairoa Race was the next day, starting with a time trial race on the top half of the river. I had really smooth lines down and pulled out the second fastest time, just behind Jamie Sutton, and narrowly beating Brendan Bayly who took third. Our time trial times seeded us in the Head-to-Head battle down the rivers two biggest rapids the Waterfall and the Rollercoaster. I had great runs in all my heats taking me into the finals to face off against Kenny Mutton. Unfortunately he got the best of me in the first rapid stuffing me into a tight pocket at the base of the waterfall. After several seconds (3 power windowshades) I was able to paddle out. I figured I could at least finish the race strong so took off at full pace across the middle flat, only to see Kenny getting surfed in the entry rapid (The Cauldron) to the Rollercoaster. Picking my pace up even more I charged into the Cauldron hoping to find away past the surfing Mutton. Unfortunately the line through is quite tight and his surfing boat took up all of it. When I tried to boof past/over the tail of his boat it slowed me down just enough to then get back looped into the same hole and pushing him free and clear.
Now, if you’ve ever been in a race and flipped over, you will know what it feels like as your body screams for air. Imagine how excited I was to find myself upside down for a second time in one race, especially after getting smashed in a hole, and then immediately paddling as hard as I can to try and catch up, only to get worked again. The hole in the Cauldron is rather violent and when I flipped my paddle was ripped out of one of me hands. By the time I regained my paddle, bounced over a rock and through a swirly eddy, I rolled up … just in time to set up for the final stretch of the Rollercoaster. By this point the race was over but I was extremely stoked just to be upright.
Once again Lu's first race wasn't exactly as she had planned, as she found herself upside down against the wall below the waterfall, but luckily so was her competitors, and Lu managed to take the win, moving her into the a round. She was quick to pick up the pace and had smooth runs sending her into the finals against last years winner Toni George. Lu out powered Toni off the start and then was able to pull together a smooth run with no mistakes, not giving the closely following Toni any chances to capitalize.
Once again the Wairoa Race was a success, and I am very happy to have been able to put together and be a part of such a great day! Huge thanks to everyone that helped out on the day… especially my fellow NZ Extreme Whitewater Association members and event organizers Brendan Bayly and Louise Urwin. Also big thanks to Level Six for making sweet gear that works and fits well, allowing me to paddle comfortably.
We look forward to making this event bigger and better for next year, and will continue to grow the NZ Extreme Whitewater Racing Series. So if you are looking for some classic whitewater to paddle along side some amazing, friendly people, make sure you make it over here for next year.
Here are a few images from the day.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Lucas, Brendan Bayly and Canadian Jeff.
Team Level Six