Interview with Race Director Tim Marshall – Pre Worlds Rafting

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Lou Lockhart | New Zealand – On the eve of the rafting Pre-World Championships, Race Director Tim Marshall is ticking off a list of prerequisites to make sure all is right for the beginning of competition tomorrow. His work began some time ago. Initially scoping out the rivers to find the right courses, the right runs and the right level of water for the time trial, the head to head, slalom and the downriver. Essentially we have to make sure we have the right water, the right rapids and the right setups for each of the races. It all has to be right!

Tim works with the New Zealand Rafting Association and one of his portfolios is Race Coordinator and Facilitator. His background in the Racing sector includes organising the three-day whitewater Bulla Fest at Murchison, one of the bigger whitewater festivals in New Zealand. Events include extreme kayaking, slalom kayaking, raft rodeos and rafter crosses.

Rotorua was chosen for the Pre-Worlds, above many other beautiful options, because of the iconic nature of the Kaituna River, its popularity amongst rafters in the North Island and it is also home to extreme paddlers. Other possible choices included  Queenstown, Murchison and  Taupo but Rotorua has a huge paddling culture as well as a strong traditional NEW Zealand culture that everyone will be able to appreciate.

Organisation and planning got underway 6-7 months ago between the RA Event Organiser, the RA Secretary, Raewyn and Tim, with both Rotorua and Kawerau District Councils being very supportive. Experience is crucial to knowing what’s necessary to prepare for an event of this size taking into account the different disciplines and their specific racing needs.

The Pre-Worlds is seen as an ideal practice run to stage the World Championships next year. These exact courses and time trials on the Kaituna have not been run before so it is crucial that a practice run is done. We’re delighted that they have all fallen into place prior to the race tomorrow.

Safety is a huge issue that must be considered very seriously before the race, to provide the best support for the paddlers. Just coming out of winter , the river levels are ideal at the moment. The time trial and the head to head are going to be some of the best racing we have ever seen.

“There will be some awesome racing this weekend. There are two categories which are really going to be great to watch – one is the Masters Men. We have a South Island team who paddled really well for New Zealand at the Zambeze in 2003. Being a little older now they qualify for the Master’s category. We’ve also got the local Master’s up here with some very experienced, ‘been around for a while’ kayakers and some solid raft guides so that will be super racing. Then in the Open Division, the Japanese team will be the team to beat, (or try to keep up with!) and some great up and coming local talent in the New Zealand rafting team. Two of New Zealand’s best kayakers will also be racing – Mike Dawson and Sam Sutton – and other teams have a mix of very experienced kayakers and rafters.

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