The Mighty Quinn

A great addition to the CRNZ events coverage this year has been the quality video and photographic work via the drone of Quinn Pedley. We speak to the 14-year-old from Whanganui to find out more about his journey.

It was watching a remote controlled helicopter as a young child which first piqued the interest In objects which fly in the sky for Quinn Pedley.

“I thought it was amazing that it was possible to have such a tiny device fly with ease,” he recalls.

At the age of ten he became intrigued with drones and after being given a toy drone as a Christmas present later that year, his whole world was to change.

Describing his first drone as “cheap and non-professional” he was, nonetheless, determined to master his Christmas gift.

Minus the modern pilot assist features like GPS it took time to learn his craft and after many months in the shed practising how to control the device, his confidence slowly built.

The home schooled youngster was keen on using the drone to capture great photographs and video but offers some good advice to anyone keen to pursue the same route.

“To fly a drone and master good photography and videography you need to know how the drone works and behaves, like driving a car,” he explains. “It is also very important to have a good understanding of the rules and regulations around drones and where, how and when you can fly them.”

The canoe sprint connection was formed through his older brother, George, who started competing for the Whanganui Multisport Club around four years ago.

Quinn, who has paddled a sea kayak, but never performed competitively in a K1, found he was regularly hanging around at regattas with the family.

He had built up some experience filming motocross, jet sprints and other water-based events and saw how a drone would provide a “great, new perspective” of the racing.


Earlier this year he contacted CRNZ, who agreed to use his services for the 2020 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro.

His unique take of the racing from a high vantage point plus (see image above) his engaging highlights package proved a real hit and his skills were used once again at Blue Lake 1 earlier this month, where his video footage and photographic skills proved a welcome edition to our daily coverage on the CRNZ social media channels.

Today he operates a $2500 DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone, which he believes is ideal for capturing the best of the action at canoe sprint regattas and other water sport-based events.

“It is a great drone for videoing events, small enough that it doesn’t make too much noise yet large enough to be able to fly in a decent breeze. It is equipped with many safety features such as GPS, Auto-return to base when connection to the drone is lost and an optical flow sensor that looks at the ground and allows the drone to hold its position with more stability.”

It is hoped Quinn will also provide his unique take on the action at the King and Queen of the Harbour surf ski race in Auckland and at Blue Lake 2 in Rotorua in December and his personal goals in future are to potentially progress his drone expertise into television or precision surveying and agricultural services.

Quinn sees great scope for drone flying to not only be used recreationally and/or to film sporting events but also as a tool to save lives and be used in search and rescue and the fire services.

However, what, in Quinn’s opinion, is the key to collecting quality drone footage?

“The art of capturing exciting videos that engages the audience is getting in low and close, so you are able to see the paddlers facial expressions,” he adds. “Whilst it is also important to be able to see who is out in front and keeping the race in context.”

***Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for more of Quinn’s cool videos.