And then it was over. Years and months of planning and training, a treasure trove of experiences and memories along the way and a fantastic ending to a very rich journey. As great as the Sprint World Championships at Eton Dorney has been, and as delighted as all the Maitahi paddlers have been with their outcomes, it is the journey that has been the best part : watching the vague idea grow into a reality, nurturing it through the pandemic times, feeling it grow on those freezing winter nights in the marina and learning that not everything turns out the way you dreamed it would but that it’s pretty damned good all the same.
And so to today. Krakenz were in the first race of the morning, a repechage of the 500m sprint. Needing to finish in fourth place to go through we came up 0.8 of a second short in fifth place but with a much better performance than yesterday. We were disappointed not to get another race but overall very happy with our performance. The icing on the cake of our trip was obviously the V12 bronze medals for every crew member but the cake itself was the seven Krakenz holding themselves together through the nerves and steep learning curve of a World Championships. A quick word of thanks to Jason Hulena for telling us the same thing over and over until it clicked and then telling us ten more times when we forgot.
A strange feeling of happy deflation was quickly replaced by one of horror. As we lined up on the finish line to cheer our Maitahi ladies paddling for Taranaki, we heard some loud shouting from the dock area and saw people running to a stricken Hawaiian man who had just finished his race. After more than half an hour of medical treatment and CPR, including the arrival of several ambulances and a helicopter, he was taken away. The good news is that he was coherent and apparently making jokes and we hope he is back in his waka seat very soon.
When they finally got going after a two hour delay Mars Dempster’s Master 50 500m crew came second in their heat to progress to the semi-finals, where they came third to get into the final. On the big stage they came fifth in 2.28.54, three seconds off a podium position. Well done Mars.
The other Taranaki crew including Linda Heath, Carol Hunter, Tracey Marvin and Zoe Horvath came fourth in theirs, which took them through to the repechage. Fifth place wasn’t enough to secure a semi-final spot but they were just 0.5 of a second away from doing just that. In the process they wiped two seconds off their previous heat time. The ladies were absolutely stoked with the whole experience.
Jan Blythe had a final of the Master 70 500m final and came in sixth. Jan has had a gruelling seven days here and produced some outstanding performances.
And finally, Greg Buck’s Master 70 Tauranga Moana Koro Express got through to their 500m final and came in eighth. Like many of the crews in Eton Dorney, Greg’s had to cope not only with the searing heat but with bouts of illness and sickness. Endurance and endless optimism have been the only medicine to cope with that and Greg has had it in abundance. Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of Greg while I was chatting to him today, so here’s an earlier one to keep his fans happy.
So, that’s it. No food report tonight as we are ordering in curry after popping into the pub across the road for a beer, having warmed up with our not so secret Kraken rum cocktail recipe.
It’s been a fantastic experience with a number of outstanding highlights including Jason’s cooking, Morag’s washing up, Shane’s singing, Pete’s underpants, the daily Wordle battle, coffee chat, Krakenz being complimented on their range of waka apparel (Jeff will be modelling the full range in our new catalogue) and the endless good humour.
Finally, we would just like to say thanks to all the Maitahi members for their endless messages of support. You probably don’t fully appreciate what a boost it gave to us to know that you were watching and cheering for us. And most of all our family members who have given us such huge aroha and put up with us through such long periods of training, often sacrificing their own wants and needs to ours. XXX
And Now Really Finally……
Fourteen Maitahi club members were at the World Championships this year. Like many others, I was one off those who said for a number of years “It’s not for me”, thinking that long distance paddling and racing was best suited to my capabilities.
It’s simply not true. If you like paddling you will probably like sprinting. Yes, it’s intense, hard work and demanding but it’s also over pretty quickly ! The technical side of it is fascinating, especially the turns, and the teamwork and fitness it creates is hugely beneficial to any long distance races you might be planning.
The WANZ Sprint Nationals in January at Lake Karapiro are an extraordinary experience. A one week village of paddlers & supporters of all ages enjoying competition and company. We have made friends here we will see there and there can’t be another sport where rivals are so willing to pass on knowledge and good will to one another.
And so…. in the near future we will be sending out some information about getting involved in Maitahi’s January 2023 Sprint Nationals campaign. It will be a three month programme starting at the beginning of October for men and women (and kids if interested) on separate on-water nights, with additional off water sessions. You will get information and coaching, a planned strength and conditioning programme, the use of the turn buoys at Best Island and a proper plan on how to get from novice to capable sprinter. If you decide to commit to it you will have an incredible experience at Karapiro in January and be fitter, stronger and a better waka ama paddlers than you are now.
So, when the details of the programme come out in September don’t discount it. If you think it’s not for you, you are probably wrong, as evidenced below.
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.