The ‘bucket list’ race across Cook Strait
‘‘I don't think it's something for weekend warriors.’’
Crossing the Cook Strait in an ocean canoe is not something everyone can do, but people are invited to try in a new race.
Joern Scherzer has made the trip and wants the opportunity to be available for others - but only if they are well-prepared.
Scherzer, from Porirua, is a prominent member of Hoe Tonga Pacifica Waka Ama Association.
Waka ama continues to grow in his hometown, with Porirua paddlers usually at the fore at sprint and long-distance events, nationally and internationally.
He hoped the popularity of the sport would energise one event that would take place on April 8: a 55-kilometre slog across Cook Strait.
Along with, Matt Archer, Lawrence Hynes, Pa Taikato, Grant Barriball and Marianna Hodges, he undertook a trial run from Mana to Ship Cove in the Marlborough Sounds in March 2015 and declared it a success.
Although it had been a while since that paddle, the puzzle pieces were falling in place for a race across the strait, he said.
‘‘We’re pretty close - there’s still a few logistical things to sort, but we’re pretty much there.’’
Things like sponsorship from Goodman Contractors, permission from the harbourmasters on either side, discount fares on the Interislander and vital funding from New Zealand Community Trust had been secured.
Now he just needs the right weather.
If it does turn nasty in April, with winds more than 10 knots, teams that have entered will likely do the Mana Super 6 Ocean Challenge instead - a one-way, 39km race from Porirua up the coast to Kapiti.
‘‘You need to be well-prepared and that’s why I don’t think it’s something for weekend warriors. If even just one person cramps or gets in trouble, it can put pressure on everyone involved.
‘‘55km is not just something you can do on a whim - once you get to about the 30km mark, it becomes a physical and mental test.’’
He hoped for up to 12 teams of six taking part, and interest was strong from around the country.
‘‘It’s a real bucket list thing to do and people have been asking me about it for a while. You can thump your chest a bit and say, ‘I crossed the Strait’. There is a cer- tain prestige about a race like this.’’
Scherzer said the concept of a regular Cook Strait canoe race had been around since a one-off race in 2003, but it’s taken a lot of fits and starts to get to this point.
More information will be available at hoetonga.co.nz in due course.
Joern Scherzer and his crew during their Cook Strait crossing in 2015.