2006 New Zealand

2006 – 12th Annual World Sprints in Lake Karipiro, New Zealand

  • Bronze in Golden Master’s V1 500m – John Roberts, Calgary.
  • Bronze in the 500m V12 Golden Master Men combo Canada/New Zealand team

 Waka Ama 2006 was paddling at its finest. Great competition, a good venue, and the special camaraderie that develops between paddlers in a race situation were highlights of the session. Added bonus: Canada doubled its medal score over the 2004 Hilo event. John Roberts repeated his win in the 500m V1, bringing home another bronze, and a Canada/New Zealand team of Golden Master Men won bronze in the 500m V12 event, bringing our medal total to 2.

Medals aside, there were a lot of personal bests during this event, and a Canadian record, set by Brian Webster in the V1-500 Open Men’s event. Brian came home in 02:22.14, to set a new mark for local paddlers.

If you had to describe the Lake Karipiro event in one word, that word would have to be ‘busy’. Canada’s team was small – fewer than 35 paddlers, including two adaptive paddlers from the Sunshine Coast. Canada did not field an adaptive team this year, so Din and Sarah won their special medals with the Italian adaptive team, then switched jerseys and paddled with the Canadian team. Only the Golden Master paddlers were able to field full teams in their event. Open, Master and Senior Master events were all mixed age groups, with seniors finding themselves in some surprising combinations. The bottom line was, everyone raced, and if a group of senior paddlers found themselves in an open event, it was still a great experience.

The meet venue, Lake Karipiro, is half an hour south of Hamilton, on New Zealand’s North Island. Getting to the venue from team accommodations meant driving in a shuttle – Brian Webster and Sheila Kuyper did yeoman service coping with driving on the ‘other side’ (we quickly learned not to call it the ‘wrong’ side) of the road. Sheila’s performance throughout the meet was extraordinary. Aside from driving (and the disadvantage to a 9-passenger bus is that you have 8 back seat drivers) Sheila took on the responsibility of making up teams, to ensure the strongest possible teams for each event, and to provide opportunities for every participant to paddle. All this was in addition to her own races, and while she didn’t medal, she was hot on the heels of the hardware winners. As a novice steerer, she did a superb job in guiding the V6s around the course.

Events were held on a 500m course, but the 1000m and 1500m events used only half the course, with a turn at the 250m mark, adding up to three turns in the 1000m races and five in the 1500m. From the spectators’ point of view, it was a much more exciting race and in many cases technique on the turns almost cancelled out power on the straight-of-way.

Weatherwise, there was a bit of everything. The races started off on a clear, sunny day, with calm water. From there it evolved to foggy mornings that delayed the race starts, pouring rain that almost obscured the buoys at the end of the course and sent literal rivers of water churning through the team tents, to howling winds strong enough to raise 8-12″ waves running diagonally across the course. Those winds also shifted one of the turn buoys and when course officials attempted to re-set the marker, several other buoys were also nudged out of place, resulting in closing down the races for the rest of the day to make course corrections. That left several hours worth of races to catch up on over the next two days, but race officials managed to do it. Efficient marshalling, fast starts, quick turnarounds and co-operative racers made it work.

The race course volunteers were wonderful. In between races they loaded and unloaded crews, bailed boats, and always had time for a cheery greeting. New Zealanders have to be among the world’s most friendly people, and Kiwi volunteers were the pick of the crop.

With Waka Ama ’06 behind us, it’s time now to concentrate on the racing season ahead of us, and to begin planning for Canada’s turn on the world stage, when we host the 2012 World Outrigger Sprints at Penticton.
~ Florida Town

2005 World Master Games

World Masters Games has been a good experience and an international
event. All that I was hoping for.

The marathon races had attendees from Canada, USA, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Australia, England, Scotland, Czech Republic,
Bulgaria, and more. Events included Kayak1, Kayak2, Kayak4, High Kneel Canoe1, High Kneel Canoe 2, OC1, Marathon Canoe2, and Marathon
Canoe 1, in both men’s and women’s. Competitors ages ranged from 30
into the 70’s. The depth of experience was incredible, and ranged
from beginner racers to world class racers still actively paddling and
retired. Concurrently running was the Canadian Marathon Canoe
Championships. I have never seen such a good showing of marathone

The distance course was challenging for some while others had full
experience with the situation. The course was on a river and paddlers
were having to deal with current and depth fluctuations which all
effect boat speed. The current was changing daily because rains, and
overflow from an upstream dam, so what was clean water one day could
be shallows the next. It was not uncommon to see someone stuck in the
shallows. To the experienced marathon canoeists this was a practised
event, to the outrigger paddler it was a bit intimidating. For those
of us who had little experience with river running we tended to follow
the leader and hope they knew what we were doing. I have a greater
appreciation for river running and the knowledge needed to create the
“best line”.

The sprint events showed even more participation from other countries.
The course was well layed out. Events included all of the ICF events
and OC1 both in 500 and 1000m. Age categories started at 30 and went
on to the 70’s. The races were well run and very punctual.

WMG’s has left some lasting impressions on me. Here, aging, which is
happenig to all of us, loses it’s hinderance. Life becomes
celebrated. One impression for me was at the medal ceremony for K1
Men’s -70. It was obvious that the fellows knew each other very well.
They were from different parts of the world but very connected.
Although I don’t know for sure, it is entirely possible that these men
have been competing together for their entire paddling careers. For
them, at this event, time had stood still. Another was in
conversation with Hugh Fisher, Olympic Gold medalist. His comment
that he began chuckling to himself in a race just because he felt like
a kid again – charging down the river with international competition.
Seeing these athletes competing at all ages is truly remarkable and
I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to compete in this
international experience.

~ Neda

Canada’s Sprint Legacy

2002 Women's Gold Medal Crew

Gold Medal Crew

2002 – 10th Annual World Sprints in Bora Bora, Tahiti

  • 5th overall
  • Rosemary Henry – Bronze in the Senior Masters V1 500m
  • Gold in Womens Masters V6 and Women’s Senior Masters crews.

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