The ‘bucket list’ race across Cook Strait

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - KRIS DANDO

‘‘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.

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