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

Last Place Victory

Probably few people have ever been so pleased and proud of a last place finish. Two different paddling club staff enthusiastically responded to my email inquiry and encouraged me to come out for this event today (Shack Attack, Feb. 19, 2006) for my first ever competition – having bought my first canoe less than two years ago at close to 60 years of age. In hind sight, maybe I should have taken that as a warning. I was skeptical that there would even be any
other recreational canoes in the “anything else” category listed after the Surf skis, OC-1s, OC-2s and kayaks. (I paddle a Wenonah Voyager touring solo.) But I supposed at least the largest category would be made up of the ubiquitous sea kayaks.

I arrived to find an impressive display of surf skis and OCs being off-loaded from vehicles and arrayed on the park lawn near the beach. Altogether, solos and tandems, I think there were 18 entrys. I wandered around talking with paddlers about their sleek, racy craft and getting “a sense of the competition”. All seemed very knowledgable and experienced. One fellow did come over and express interest in my open canoe. He allowed as how it would have been a
good boat for that expedition he completed in the Yukon. That was just before solo kayaking down the coast of British Columbia from southeastern Alaska to Port Hardy! Eventually I did finally see one (!)solo sea kayak arrive on the beach.

I went to the registration desk and started to make my reservations known that maybe I was just a little outclassed here(!?!?). They wouldn’t hear of it. I admitted I had tried to pre-run the course on Thursday without managing to complete the return from the turn around point. One of the surf ski paddlers spoke up to say, “at least you
got there in those conditions. I tried it Thursday and after finding myself in the water, I gave up!” Well, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so I registered for the day’s race.

The safety boat operator, a fellow named Chris, one of the encouraging club emailers, was most supportive and kept me in sight despite my being well behind from soon after the start. I was within a few hundred yards of the turn around when the first of the surf skis passed going the other way. They were followed by the OC-1s and OC-2s. Conditions were perfect with very little wind and less tidal current than I had feared. I was able to cut the rocky headlands very close and take the shortest route everywhere. My pre-run knowledge gave me confidence.

There were few boats still on the beach when I finally finished. As I was rinsing the salt water off my boat a club representative came along to say they would be starting the awards ceremony shortly in the park facility. Someone with a GPS said the out and back distance was 6.35 miles. Unofficial results: first surf ski in something over 50 minutes. First OC-1 within a minute of one hour. Yours truly in the lone open canoe: somewhere between an hour twenty-five and an
hour thirty. I’m not displeased. Besides the difference in equipment, most, but not all, contestants were young enough to be my children if not my grandchildren. There was one remarkable grey hair who had been pointed out with awe by another competitor. I think he took second in OC-1, four minutes behind the winner!

And yes, the lone kayak and the lone open canoe were each awarded water bottles containing clever little chocolate canoes. And I won a paddling cap in the draw. Are my shoulders and back sore? You bet! Do I love it? You don’t have to ask. I finished strong, feeling like a lot more of an athlete than I have any right to. That hour and a half was not longer than I have done before. Nor was it the hardest effort I have done for shorter periods. But it was certainly the hardest I have gone for such a distance. I guess that is part of what competitions are all about, an inspiration to go a little further, a little harder, to do our best. I’m a happy paddler, grateful to the club and their forebearance with my last place victory.

` Paul Glassen – Naniamo Canoe and Kayak

Winter Paddling – Rio Style

Rob and Carmen – Pacific Reach

On Dec 4th, after 22 hours of travelling, Rob, Carmen, Carrie, Richard, Leanne, Lucy, and Brian (our manager) from Pacific Reach arrived into Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The weather in Rio averages between 26-33 degrees, with humidity up to 90.

Before the race weekend we paddled around the shores to see the spectacular landscape while testing the 12 foot swells and wind conditions around Sugar Loaf, Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach waters. The endless beach of Copacabana is covered with beautiful Brazilian bronze bodies in colorful “body strings”.

The Rio Va’a was well attended with visiting teams came from Italy, Argentina, California, Hong Kong and other surrounding Brazilian Clubs. The majority of the teams were Men’s crews. The Tahitian teams had cancelled.

On the 1st race day, they unloaded the new Tahitian rudderless OC1’s for the races at the Praia Vermelha Beach (boats made by Ron Williams, 1 of the 3 Rons who used to live in Vancouver and paddled with the Blade Runners DB team). The OC1 races ran smoothly in the blazing 33 degrees heat. Later in the afternoon teams were paired up at random for V12s as demonstration races for the beach crowd.

On the V6 race day, the weather turned for the worse into a huge rainstorm. Teams arrived at 7:00am to rig the V6’s bearing torrential rain conditions and hovering under sun umbrellas for hours until the race officials decided it was somewhat safer to begin the race. After long debates the race course was compromised due to the rainstorm and poor visibility, reducing the original 34km course to 24km iron. The entrance to the bay of the race site was pounded by turbulent waves that pulled the boats towards the boulders from multiple directions, but at the same time pushes them back into the middle of the “washing machine”. That was Mother Nature?s gateway to test every team’s leap of faith in each other as a crew to pass the pit. The helicopter and safety boat video crews were cancelled due to safety reasons. After the race everyone was welcomed into the beach restaurant for a buffet and a very generous awards ceremony.

This was a great location and unforgettable experience for racing in difficult water conditions. Rio is a very beautiful and modern city with a lot of history and interesting architecture. Brazilian bbq buffets and local cuisine are great. Beer is $1 – $2 Cdn and is available on all beaches. The national drink is Caipirinha which is a killer version of Mojitos. The local Portuguese language and sign language is easy to pick up.

Thank you to Nicolas and his Rio Va’a Clube for their kind hospitality and Nicholas’ passion to make this venue a success. Ola and Seasons Greetings from Rio de Janeiro!