New Zealand’s Tekapo Throwdown ’15

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The first weekend of November is always one of my favorites in New Zealand, as it’s the weekend of the annual Tekapo Throwdown.

This kayaking event in held on a manmade channel that connects to the Tekapo River which flows from the glacial lake only so many times a year. So it’s a rare gem that should be made the most of.

I’ve come to the Tekapo Throwdown every year since I started paddling and it’s the first freestyle I ever won.
But it doesn’t matter how you place here. It’s the atmosphere of positive encouragement and enthusiasm that makes this event one to be at.
Everyone camps out by the river over night, usually with a campfire, drinking back their pride through their booties and telling tales of the day.

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The event starts of with the ever-popular Ball-Race. This is where teams of two compete in heats of 3. Three beach balls are dropped into the river from the bridge at the top of the course. Each team is preallocated a ball and must work together to get their ball out of the freestyle hole, through the first big pool, down the main channel and then to the river right shore, where they must both then get out of their boats pull their gear up the bank and both place the beach ball in an empty boat waiting on the bank.

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This event provides plenty of entertainment through surfing the hole, foul play, balls flying upstream with wind and swims at the finish line as competitors try to frantically remove themselves from their boats the fastest.
This year conditions were ideal, hot beautiful day to contrast the glacial waters and hardly a breathe of wind! This means you could easily move your ball downstream without it randomly flying back upstream with each gust.

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This year Gordy and Myself were on the same team and battled it out to take the win. But not without some good tactical play of course.

Next event was the rescue race where teams of 4 relayed through different safety skills. Starting with making an accurate throw bag throw. Next person towed a boat across the river, then another towed the paddle, next towed a person across, then everyone was to get back in their boats and paddle down the main then all get out with all their gear at the river right bank in the second pool.
Teams displayed great throw bag aim and everyone was very efficient at the towing which was awesome to see. My team unfortunately put the rescue in the rescue race when our last paddler crashed down the channel taking a hard hit to the face and an inevitable swim following.
However, I’m grateful to say she is a tough cookie and doing well!

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After this it was do whatever you like until the water turned off at 5pm, then bootie beers and tall tales for the rest of the night.

The Next day started off with Slalom. Each racer got two runs with their fastest time counting.
Competitors could race in any boat they like and due to the sharp concrete many opted for plastic. Though the NZ team members of course did not fear their go to boats on the course.
I decided to race my Zen, due to its fast zippiness, this was a great option in my eyes, other than the height of the boat, as it seemed like I nose plowed straight into just about every pole!

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Pete Simpson won the Men’s
Courtney Kerin won the Women’s in her Zen S. Beating out the glass boats.

Then the best was left till last, Freestyle!
Tekapo course begins with an awesome but shallow freestyle hole. We started off with the women’s and had a good heat of 6. Everyone went in, did what they could and had a ball. It was a beautiful atmosphere in the eddy, with overwhelming proudness for each athlete. Next was the Jr Men, Followed by the veteran men then the opens.

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Courtney Kerin won the Women’s in her Rockstar S
Aidan Haig won the Men’s in his Rockstar L

All in all it was another fantastic weekend at Tekapo and the best weather we have had for one so far. I’d love to give a bug shoutout to Antz Longman for another Epic Tekapo Throwdown and everyone that came along for the awesome times!

See ya there next year!
Courtney Kerin

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