CRNZ community rallies to show great initiative

Despite the understandable disappointment at the postponement of the 2021 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships, which was scheduled to have started today (Friday), the kayaking community has rallied to show great initiative and make the most of a challenging scenario.

On Lake Karapiro, the men’s and women’s senior CRNZ squads began three days of ‘mock racing’ and time trialling (see image above) today to capitalise on their current shape and to best ensure no gains would be lost in pursuit of their Olympic dreams.

“While the postponement of nationals was disappointing, from a health a safety perspective it is completely understandable,” explains CRNZ coach Tim Brabants. 

“Compared to the rest of the world we are very lucky here in New Zealand but is important to be adaptable and to view change as an opportunity. 

“In this case we saw it as a good chance to do some in-house racing and try and best replicate everything we intended to do this weekend. 

“We want the paddlers to apply the same process to warm ups, cool downs, race preparation and weighing the boat as they would a normal race weekend. It is important to practise and understand all these elements – it doesn’t matter whether it is an in-house time trial or an Olympic Games.”

The squads of athletes paddling on Lake Karapiro included a world-class women’s squad headed by double Olympic champion Lisa Carrington and a men’s squad including 2019 World Cup K2 1000m A Finalists Kurtis Imrie and Max Brown.

However, also training at the lake are a small squad of five paddlers from the Cook Islands as well as the local Karapiro Kayak Racing Club and the CRNZ squads have reached out in support.

“The Cook Islands team had been training at Lake Karapiro for nationals, so we helped organise some training in the lake and to carry out some races,” he explains. “We also have several younger guys from the Karapiro Kayak Club racing as well and while this is not a full on regatta, it is nice to help these paddlers while they were training here on the lake anyway.”

Coach of the Cook Islands team Stephen Brown has been delighted at the welcoming response his team of five – which includes Olympic-bound duo Kohl Horton and Jade Tierney and three U16 paddlers – have received. 

“We’ve been training at the lake all week and when we received the news of the postponement we decided to just get stuck into more intensive training,” explains Tauranga-based Stephen

“To be honest, at first it felt a little bit cheeky to be training at the lake. It felt like we were imposing, but we have been made to feel very welcome.

‘”To be given the chance to be around world-class athletes puts into clear perspective where our athletes are positioned, how many times they need to train a day and where they need to make improvements.

“Back in the Cook Islands the facilities aren’t fantastic. They do a lot of ocean paddling so they are chuffed to be on the lake here, training in a vast expanse of water, hopefully making some gains.”

In the wake of the postponement of nationals, the North Shore Canoe Club have also shown great initiative to put on a hastily organised regatta at Lake Pupuke tomorrow (Saturday).

The Auckland-based club put a plan in place some weeks ago that should the nationals be postponed and should health and safety guidelines allow, to run on a club regatta this weekend.

Once news of the postponement was confirmed on Tuesday the club has worked hard to organise the one-day event and more than $1000 worth of spot prizes have been sourced.

“Covid is leading to the cancellation and postponement of many events,” explains club coach Gavin Elmiger. “We need to understand for many of our paddlers the sport is a big part of their life. We need to be respectful of the time and commitment they put in and as a coach and as a club we need to make sure we are there for our members to do the best we can.”