Pad­dlers now eye­ing Cook Strait race

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Af­ter more than 12 years, a team of Porirua pad­dlers has done it again – crossed Cook Strait in a six-man out­rig­ger ca­noe.

The suc­cess­ful cross­ing at the end of March marks the be­gin­ning of what could be­come an an­nual race across the strait.

Waka ama is the fastest grow­ing pad­dling sport in New Zealand. There are now 4100 ac­tive pad­dlers, with more than 550 pad­dlers and 11 clubs in the Welling­ton re­gion.

Jo­ern Scherzer, the team or­gan­iser said that pad­dling across Cook Strait was one of those things to tick off a bucket list.

It did not come easy, with team mem­bers train­ing daily for month.

On the day, the team start­ing pad­dling pad­dle at 5.30am from Mana.

‘‘The first hour we pad­dled in com­plete dark­ness, and it’s only once we had passed Mana Is­land, over 12km into the cross­ing, that the first signs of morn­ing emerged,’’ Scherzer said.

About 4h 40min later, hav­ing cov­ered 55km, the team reached Ship Cove in the outer Marl­bor­ough Sounds.

Ship Cove gave safe har­bour to Cap­tain James Cook five times in the 1770s and is a pic­turesque lo­ca­tion to fin­ish a cross­ing.

Scherzer said that dur­ing the pad­dle, each pad­dler did about 13,000 strokes and went through at least four litres of elec­trolytes and a good sup­ply of ‘‘squeezies’’ (liq­uid car­bo­hy­drate re­place­ments).

‘‘Most also fin­ish with blis­ters on their hands and plenty of sore mus­cles.’’

For­tu­nately, the re­turn was more re­laxed – on the In­ter­is­lander ferry. ‘‘ The idea for the Cook Strait cross­ing came about be­cause I some­times get asked why we don’t run a race across the Strait,’’ Scherzer said. ‘‘ What many peo­ple don’t re­alise is the strait is a very un­pre­dictable stretch of wa­ter, with strong ti­dal flows and of­ten strong winds.

‘‘ The cross­ing was a test of whether it could be done if the con­di­tions are right, and I think it could work.’’

For two years, Scherzer has or­gan­ised the Mana Ocean Chal­lenge, be­tween Porirua and Kapiti.

Six-man out­rig­ger ca­noe teams pad­dle 38km, prefer­ably with the wind at their back, in what can be de­mand­ing rough wa­ter con­di­tions.

It is the long­est waka ama marathon race in New Zealand.

Scherzer is now work­ing on adding a Cook Strait cross­ing as a race course op­tion, pro­vided he can se­cure suf­fi­cient lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port and the con­di­tions are set­tled on the day.

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