CRNZ coach Tim Brabants identifies the importance for paddlers of competing in the forthcoming 10km Kayak Krazy series.
After what I thought was an excellent postponed National Championships, held in near perfect conditions for the most part, it is time to ask “what next?”. Thankfully we do not have to wait long for the answer. The 10km series of racing will begin soon around the country.
I feel these races present a great opportunity for kayakers to participate in events which are not only fun, but also have great development opportunity. The start line of a 10km race is always a little anxiety inducing with close positioning of all the racers and slight uncertainty as to when the start signal will be heard. From then, it is a good sprint to get into position and stay out of trouble. Then comes the next hard part, go it alone or sit in a pack, riding washes, leading the pack, making decisions as you go to both conserve energy and attempt to be first across the line. Positioning coming into turns is also critical. If you are on the inside of the turn, will the person whose wash you are riding give you space or try and squeeze you into the turn buoy? I always wanted to race fairly and give people space if I was leading a bunch and had someone on my inside wash around the bend. At one point it may be me on that inside wash and I knew I would always appreciate some space! In my view, winning the race through good decisions and good sportsmanship is way more rewarding than through dirty tactics!
Lots can be learnt from taking the opportunity to race as many 10km races as you can through the next couple of months. Firstly, they are fun and keep you motivated, working towards something. It is a good time to get used to the buildup to the start of a race, the mental and physical preparation to get there. Learning how to manage your energy levels and conserve some for a potential sprint finish. You need a good mix of skills from start speed, endurance, race strategy and practical boat skills such as wash riding and tight turns. If you enjoy watching cycling road races, it is much the same as being in a peloton sometimes, riders jostle for position to save energy but stay in the race and being able to respond should someone make a break for the lead. Adrenaline fuelled fun!
With the surf lifesaving and Waka Ama paddlers also branching across into flatwater kayaks more recently, the 10km series will hopefully bring more paddlers together and increase the depth of talent across the sport.
For more on the races in the 10km series go here