Raft Nationals go under floodlights in Kawerau

Date published: April 7, 2015 at 9:22 am | Comments

On Saturday 11th April, the Tarawera River in Kawerau will be lit up with floodlights and play host to the R6 National Selection Races (Raft – 6 in a crew), with the winners in various classes earning the right to represent New Zealand at the R6 World Rafting Champs in Indonesia, November 2015.

The Selection Races are made up of four disciplines (identical to World Champs) with gradually weighted points in each discipline; teams with the most points at the end of the four disciplines will be selected to represent New Zealand.

The Time Trial Sprint (100 pts.) will be first up on the Tarawera River, followed by the exciting Head 2 Head’s (200 pts).  Head to head raft racing is a hard out battle between two teams entering into the rapids aiming for superiority to the finish line and a fine spectacle for the public to watch.

For the first time in Kawerau (and possibly New Zealand) the Slalom (300 pts.) discipline will take place under floodlights on Saturday evening, offering a completely new experience for both raft teams and spectators.  This has only been made possible through the generous funding made available from NZCT.

Canoe Slalom BOP  will be on site offering timing services throughout the day and Canoe Slalom BOP paddlers will hold a fun slalom race in between the evening raft runs – making for a full menu of slalom racing under lights.

Previous plans to hold the Down River on the nearby Rangitaiki River are now in doubt due to low water levels.  With a late call (by Friday 10th) by the Race Director likely to take place to determine where the final discipline will be held.

The Tarawera River is the reserve venue for the Down River Endurance (400 pts.) where winning teams will be decided.

Tim Marshall, New Zealand Rivers Association and Selections race director commented “Personally, I am looking forward to returning to Kawerau, which provides a world class slalom course that will be under lights this year!”

“Notably, there will be an open women’s and men’s team coming from Auckland University Canoe Club.  Whilst they might not have the experience and opportunity to train on rivers they will be a force to reckon with in years to come.  Rafting participation coming from outside the immediate Rotorua area is a good step in the direction of growth.” Raewyn Larcombe, spokesperson for New Zealand Rivers Association commented.

Defending NZ World Champions from the men’s masters and U19 women’s have new recruits in their teams but largely remain unchanged from the crews in 2013.

Open women’s and men’s teams boasting the likes of Nikki Kelly and Sam Sutton will be part of incredibly experienced teams and amongst favourite’s to take out titles both nationally and in Indonesia come November.

A major highlight of the day will be the first ever slalom race held in Kawerau under floodlights, this will no doubt create new challenges for the teams but also a unique experience for all watching and officiating.

With the winter months approaching this event will close off the 2015 summer season of whitewater events in Kawerau.

In summary

WHAT:                   R6 National Selection Races

WHEN:                   Saturday 11th April (Kawerau) & Sunday 12th April (Rangitaiki or Kawerau TBC)

TIME:                      Time Trial Sprints –              12.00 – Midday

Head 2 Heads –                     2.00pm

Slalom Practice –                  4.00pm

Slalom Runs –                        6.00pm – 9.00pm (Floodlit and includes Canoe Slalom fun runs)

Down River (Sunday) –        10.30am

WHERE:                  Tarawera River, Waterhouse Street Reserve, Kawerau

HOW MUCH:         Free to all spectators

PARKING:               Firmin Field and Waterhouse Street Reserve, Kawerau

Image attached – NZ Masters Men on the Tarawera River during 2013 World Rafting Champs

Source: Kawerau District Council