If a heaped spoonful of paddling and a good dollup of fun is what you like in a kayaking regatta, then Blue Lake 1 this weekend dished it up! Despite the appalling weather on Friday, Saturday and Sunday provided glassy conditions with only a short burst of rain on the Saturday to dampen an otherwise stunning weekend.
126 paddlers from all over the country arrived at Lake Tikitapu (the Blue Lake) in Rotorua to take the opportunity to race in a variety of races, including K1 events which were separated into divisions after two ‘seeding’ races. This created some really close racing within the six divisions (3 men’s and 3 women’s). It’s certainly a challenge for a lot of paddlers as they can conceivably race five K1 200m races on Saturday as well as team boats and fun races, plus another three K1 500m races on Sunday, along with the 5km race for those tough nuts with enough strength left to take up the challenge!
The Womens K2 race featured a unique happening, with three ‘mother-daughter’ combos facing off against each other – teams Cole, Thompson and Austin were joined by the Gatland/Bell adoptive combo to make for a really special race!
Mother-daughter teams: L-R Gatland/Bell, Thompson, Austin, Cole
In Division 1 the mens 200m race was won by Zach Ferkins, Poverty Bay, closely followed by Hamish Legarth and Ben Duffy in 2nd and 3rd respectively. This pack was a hot contest with only 1.7 seconds separating the top five paddlers. In the 500m Max Brown took out top honours, with Ferkins and Legarth in the next two spots.
In the women’s Division 1 200m race, Rebecca Cole, Waitara, finished a full 2 seconds ahead of second placed Juri Urada from North Shore, Rochelle Austin a close third.
In Division 2 the women’s 200m top two spots were taken up by Poverty Bay team mates Nicki Graham and Stacey Warren-Moiser with third place being claimed by Lily Tierney, a member of the visiting Cook Islands team, whilst the mens Div 2 final saw Cooks paddler Hosea Nooapii claim the top spot ahead of Kaden Brock, Waitara and Kristian Marshall, North Shore.
In the 500m Div 2 races, Brock managed the win, with Andy Logue, North Shore close behind and Nooapii settling for third. The women’s race saw newcomer Loredana Unsworth from Mana take first place from Graham (2nd) and Warren-Moiser (3rd).
The Cook Islands team showed their improving form by also winning the Division 3 mens 200m final – Te Aro’a Pekepo taking the win ahead of Max Jones, Mana and Alan Davy, Eastern Bay. The tables were turned in the 500m with Jones taking first, Pekepo second, and Geoff Mould of Poverty Bay third.
In the women’s 200m Div 3 race Yannicka Tinirau, Cook Islands, took out the top spot with Eastern Bay’s Jess Cleghorn in second and another Cook Islander, Manea Ave, in third. The same three paddlers placed in the 500m but shuffled the results – Cleghorn 1st, Tinirau 2nd, Ave 3rd.
Ben Duffy’s Hat K4 team wins
The race that rallied the most support was the hilarious “Hat K4” race, where 8 of our top paddlers drew three junior’s names out of a hat to form their Hat K4 crew. All then selected hats to wear with a chocolate prize for the win (Ben Duffy’s team) and the best looking team (Rebecca Cole’s “fluro fro” team).
Rebecca Cole’s ‘best looking’ Hat K4
Photo credits Diana/Luke Austin