Mowlem pad­dles to river race hat trick

Waikato Times - - NEWS - LIBBY WIL­SON

There were tightly fought bat­tles at the end of the an­nual Waikato River pad­dle race.

Auck­lan­der An­drew Mowlem made it three wins in a row when he was first across the Cam­bridge to Hamil­ton Pad­dle Race fin­ish line af­ter a 23km pad­dle.

He made it to the Waikato Sports Fish­ing Club in 1 hour, 26 min­utes yes­ter­day – less than a sec­ond in front of the next surf­ski com­peti­tor across the line.

Later, a trio of stand-up pad­dle­board­ers ar­rived, each scram­bling to be first of the group to fin­ish.

The pad­dle race has pre­vi­ously at­tracted name com­peti­tors, in­clud­ing Olympians Ben Fouhy and Mahe Drys­dale.

This year, com­peti­tors in the 23km race lined up at Cam­bridge’s River­side Re­serve yes­ter­day morn­ing, with craft in­clud­ing waka, stand-up pad­dle­boards and var­i­ous classes of kayaks.

Oth­ers started the shorter 11km race at Nar­rows Land­ing.

Mowlem – who has done the race about four times – said he keeps com­ing back be­cause there are more com­peti­tors than in al­most any other race.

‘‘I’m not al­ways pad­dling that much in the river. I en­joy that. It’s cool hav­ing all the stand-ups and the mul­ti­sport kayaks, ca­noes and things as well. It’s a bit dif­fer­ent … You see peo­ple the whole time,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s usu­ally a bit of a head­wind – just, I think, be­cause you’re run­ning down the river – but it was prob­a­bly bet­ter [con­di­tions] than I had done be­fore, just be­cause I’ve done it a cou­ple of times be­fore when it’s been hail­ing and rain­ing on the way. It was good to­day.’’

This year his time was slightly faster and he thinks the river was flow­ing faster, too.

It was also much higher – the lit­tle beach near the fin­ish line was al­most sub­merged.

That high level cre­ated more swirling water around ob­sta­cles such as trees, Mowlem said, which meant com­peti­tors had to keep their dis­tance.

‘‘It’s a hard race. Be­cause it’s so flat, it def­i­nitely throws you out,’’ said Mowlem, who usu­ally pad­dles in the [Auck­land] har­bour.

PHOTO: MARK TAY­LOR/STUFF

Stand-up pad­dle­board­ers were among those rac­ing down the Waikato River yes­ter­day.

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