Portage race – winner’s report

The reports keep coming. This is from Jason D on behalf of the first waka home, Krakenz 50 in Ohana

…Well, the sea was angry my friends….the weather wasn’t great to be honest or as Tara described it at the briefing…’it’s a bit shit’…there was a strong NE wind and quite a chill. The conditions in Kenepuru forced the organisers hand to change the course for the kayakers and waka paddlers.

The course would now see all paddlers starting from the foreshore and paddling to Bobs Bay around the orange buoy and then passing on the inside of Mabel Island, around Dogs nose point and then heading towards Postmans rock (that’s where the usual 20km waka course makes the turn for home), from this point the course headed into Onahau Bay and then into the head of Mistletoe bay, rounding the buoy and making the run home following the same course.

The kayakers and surfski racers went off first with the waka contingent following 1 minute later. The start was a pretty orderly affair although Jason Hulenas V02 crew did jump the start and had to put on the brakes and back paddle to rejoin the bunch.

 KrakeNZ got off to a solid start, forgoing our usual race start because of the conditions and focusing on getting some deep strong strokes in to get Ohana to jump off the line. Within 200m of the start KrakeNZ, VO2 and Motueka men were at the head of the pack, KrankeNZ50 kept the power on and rounded the first buoy as the leading waka, a lead we would maintain for the whole race. Passing inside Mabel island gave the crews some shelter from the wind and swell, passing Dogs nose point and the weather really came into play, with the waves hitting the side of the boat it was just a case of powering on. 

KrakeNZ made good time across the bay and kept the power up the whole way. Entering Onahau bay gave us a bit of respite from the worst of the conditions for a short time before we hit it head on again, we managed to chase down a couple of the sea rowers and passed a handful of surf skiers. The top mark was looming ahead and the boys were still paddling strong, we rounded the mark with Motueka men roughly 200m behind us and V02 250-300m further back.

 With the wind behind us the crew maintained the same output, lifting our speed and extending the gap between us and the chasing crews. Rounding Postmans rock we took a route that meant we were able to take advantage of the swell and keep a solid speed, straightening up before we entered the Harbour, putting the wind and swell directly behind us and we caught some good waves to boost us along. Ducking behind Mabel island gave us a couple of minutes respite from the wind before we crossed the channel, rounding the last buoy and heading for the finish. The run home was just as solid a performance as the crew had delivered all race and we powered to the finish unchallenged, finishing roughly 2 minutes ahead of Motueka men and 5  mins ahead of V02. Our arrival took the organisers by surprise, with the time keeper seen running up the road with fish and chips once he saw us steaming home. We finished with an officially ‘unofficial time’ of 1 hour 31 mins, verified by 2 Garmins and a Speedcoach. It was a solid effort by the KrakeNZ crew and means that the last 3 years have seen the KrakeNZ team with two first place finishes and a second.

A great days racing by Maitahi crews, all we need now are some revamped racing shirts and maybe 3 more carbon fibre wakas…..

The Author

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