Krakenz heading to World Championships

The World Championships in August will mark the end of a long journey for the Krakenz crew. The first idea of a Maitahi 50+ crew reared its head back in early 2019 and the first iteration of Krakenz paddled in May of that year and included current members Jeff Neilson, Sean Timoney, Tony Davies and Peter Bywater (who I think we are crediting with inventing the name Krakenz, partly based on our favourite post race tipple). 

We added Seb Head when he reached the legal age, Shane Winterton when we realised he was an old bloke as well and Jason Daughtrey when we realised he was big, strong and better organised than the rest of us put together. 

Gerard Malcolm has been part of our longer distance efforts and has supported our training programme but is not making the trip to London.  

We raced at Regionals in December 2019 with Charlie Kawana as part of the crew but decided against attending Nationals in 2020, as we were seriously undercooked both physically and technically. We embarked on a long term training plan to take us to Nationals in 2021 and 2022 (before the pandemic rudely interrupted us) and then onto Worlds if we qualified.

As with any new venture we had to learn as we went but we had some excellent coaching from Jason Hulena who had steered the mainly local VO2 crew to gold at Nationals and a final at Worlds in Tahiti. Having an outside coach to try to get us to paddle in a specific way was invaluable but perhaps the biggest improvement came in our conditioning, with strength and power training in the gym an essential addition to our regime.

We didn’t really know what to expect at Nationals in 2021 and were completely blown away by the experience. It’s huge and unlike any other waka event you will go to. At Karapiro we missed out on qualifying for the final of the 500m by less than a second and in the 1000m turns race made the final and sixth place. A pretty good return for our work.

The next 12 months was severely disrupted by lockdowns but every squad member kept himself in reasonable condition throughout those dark days. We were expecting to be back at Karapiro in January 2022 and having to qualify for Worlds but in the end the event didn’t happen and we didn’t have to qualify to go to London. That’s both good and bad as it means we will arrive in the UK with no competitive sprinting for nearly 20 months.

In January we started a very intensive, highly structured 31 week programme designed to get us to be at our peak this August. Long gym sessions lifting weights three times a week to begin with, with on the water sessions added and now, as we reach the sharp end, power and erg sessions in the gym as well. Everyone has felt a significant increase in strength and we are working on improving our speeds as the big day approached.

We managed to secure a training facility on the large pond at Best Island and now have a permanent, fairly accurate set of turn buoys up there which is making it far easier to carry out meaningful turn practice.

The thing that has been the biggest joy is not the progress on the water but the camaraderie off it. We have seen so many crews disintegrate over the years that we determined that everyone had to sign up to a basic team ethos. The crew is primarily about friendship, commitment, honesty and integrity and consequently we have encountered almost zero personal problems over a very long period.

A diversion from sprinting at Te Anau last year

We have no idea what we will find out on the water in the UK. We might get blown out the back in the heats or be contending finalists. That will take care of itself but when we put our paddles down and reach for some well earned refreshment we will be even closer friends than when our journey began.

Looking beyond the World Championships, we are looking to have two Krakenz crews for Karapiro 2023, one 50+ and one 60+. We are also hoping that we will have a couple of women’s crews from the club to work with us. We have a good programme to run for 3 months from October through to the race in January , good facilities to practise turns and a supportive club so keep your eyes peeled for further information when the dust settles and we get back from the UK. 

If you have ever thought sprinting is not for you, think again…. That’s what most of us once said !

Its never too early or too late to start paddling waka ama

We always welcome new members to the Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
We have social and racing waka ama crews catering for a wide variety of ages and abilities.