Huon River turns on great racing!
Next Level Kayaking sponsorship for Huon series announced!
The first of the Total Eyecare Optometrists/ Next Level kayaking winter series saw 26 boats and 27 paddlers head down to the mighty Huon River. The forecast was for a minimum of 2 degrees in Huonville. There was snow on the mountain and everyone was thinking that the Huon would be icy cold and possibly compounded by one of those notorious Huon river fogs. The conditions put a smile on every face. It was a balmy 9 degrees and sunny. There was a strong flow in the river which Phil predicted would by countered by the incoming tide by the end of the race. Phil chose a fast course for the day going with the flow and picking up the incoming tide for the hard slog back to Huonville.
Div 3 was first off with some competitors having difficulty staying on the start line in the strong flow. David Spinks and Ken Henry opened up an early lead and were never headed. One paddler missed the turn point and had to paddle an extra 1/2km to get back on course. Kate Andrews took out the title of fastest female on the day. There was a battle between the two sea kayaks with Fiona Walsh maintaining her lead over Sharon Campbell to take out the fastest sea kayak bragging rights. David and Ken paddled very well and will most likely be promoted up to Div 2 for the next race.
Div 2 started at a rate of 16km/hr for the first kilometre in the fast flowing water. Matt Watton had a great start and with Drew Wilkinson and Simon Fielding set up a leading group that quickly burnt off the other paddlers trying to tag on the back. The surprise was the double ski of Carl and Jen who slowly moved through the field once they got their timing right. Matt had to use all of his drafting and river reading skills to hold off a strong Drew Wilkinson to take out the fastest single paddler in Div 2. Craig Roden and Mark Vanderstaay had a slower start but finished strongly.
In the Elite Division 1 a group of 4 paddlers worked powerfully to break away from the rest. Seb Spinks had never beaten Ben Maynard and has learnt from previous races that he had to race smarter to beat Ben in a sprint finish. Instead of leading all the way and running out of steam in the sprint finish Seb did his turns more sparingly and spent more time on the washes. It was a hard working good group of 4 and there was plenty of shelter on side and V washes if you wanted it. This made for a pretty good average speed – est. 13+km/hr looking at the times. Ben tried a lot of surges and long leads to break away when he could see favourable current or eddy lines but couldn’t get clear! So it was all set up for a sprint finish. Seb led out and gradually the pace went up and up. It’s very hard to sprint from a wash but Ben didn’t have the pace to get to the front and so Seb was a half-length up at the end. Ben was a close second with Stew Lawless and Andrew Buckley close behind. Big congrats to young Seb, he paddled smart, and as he’s just getting faster all the time he’s going to be hard to beat this year! The next Huon Race will see Matt and Stew join the lead pack in one of their last hit-outs before heading over to Wildwater Worlds in France. So the pace will be even higher.
Seb has been selected to represent Australia at the Olympic hopes regatta in Hungary in September in Hungary. This is an international ICF flat water racing regatta for future olympics.
After the race Bucks was heard to promise to take up weight training to be competitive in the sprint finishes!
It was great to see a good number of new paddlers wanting to improve their competition skills while having a good workout and fun! It would be great to see more doubles and sea kayaks at the next race on May 20th.
Next Level kayaking have come on board as sponsors for the series and will be offering 4 x $60 vouchers to div 2 and 3 paddlers. 2 vouchers will be spot prizes at race 2 and 2 vouchers will be awarded at race 4. Valid for coaching or for product redeemed before the winter challenge on August 19th. See the excellent Next Level Kayaking website (http://splashworks.com.au/) for details of the extensive range of services available. Ben has developed a huge reputation in kayak coaching since his retirement from international competition.
Thanks to Mary-Jane Watkins, Katie Watkins and Daniel Watkins for check in/ starting/ finishing and writing up the times. Thanks to Steve Spinks for safety boat duties. Thanks to Chris Blackaby for pre and post race briefings. We will see you at Huonville on Sunday May 20th for our next fun race!
Phil and Andy
Results on Results Page.