Kiwis take surprise win in Slalom at Pre-Worlds

The sun shone again on more exciting competition and a Kiwi crew came out on top.

That was the story as the Pre-Worlds (and NZ White Water Rafting National Championships) moved over to the Tarawera River, in the Bay of Plenty, for the second day of competition.

Photo Alan Ofsoski

This weekend’s event is a crucial event for the Kiwi crews. Selection for the 2013 IRF Rafting World Championships in Rotorua and Kawerau is up for grabs.

Ghost Chips had a rough start to the event. In the Sprint on the Kaituna on Friday, crew member, Paul Roozendaal broke a paddle. A five-man Ghost Chips crew still managed 3rd behind the powerful Czech crew, Team Bestie.

On Friday afternoon, they were 2nd in the Head 2 Head and moved up to second overall.

Their excellent form continued into Saturday as they won the Slalom ahead of the classy Team Teikei squad from Japan. Both crews showed superb technical skill, but it was the Kiwis who took the maximum 300 points in a best time of two runs of 2.53.17, with Team Teikei under a second behind.

One of the Ghost Chips crew is Sam Sutton who won his third consecutive world kayak extreme title in Austria a couple of weeks ago, beating 150 of the best extreme paddlers on the planet. He’s traded in the kayak for a 6-man raft for the Nationals and a possible place at another sort of White Water Worlds.

Photo Alan Ofsoski

After dominating Friday’s Sprint and Head 2 Head on the Kaituna, just north of Rotorua, Team Teikei were in fine form again in the Slalom. They retain first place overall just nine points ahead of Ghost Chips with a maximum of 400 points on the line in Sunday’s Down River on the Rangitaiki River, south of Rotorua.

Team Bestie from the Czech Republic were 3rd in the Slalom to retain third, overall.

In Masters Men, the ding-dong battle between local crew, Aotearoa Paddlers and Team BTA from the South Island continued in the Slalom. They are still separated by just a handful of points with only the Down River to go on Sunday.

The Rotorua-based ‘Okere Ladies’ won the Open Women’s Slalom to add to the Sprint and Head 2 Head on Friday.

The Pre-Worlds and National Championships are being raced on the same river and in the same Incept rafts as the World Championships, in just over 12 months.

The competition wraps up tomorrow with the Downriver race on one of the North Island’s classic white water rivers, the Rangitaiki, south of Rotorua.

“The Downriver is worth 400 points,” says Raewyn Larcombe from New Zealand Rivers Association. “It’s a race of strength and stamina that often decides championship titles.”

In November, next year around 50 international crews will travel to New Zealand for a 10 day festival of rafting in one of New Zealand’s top tourism destinations.

Nikki Kelly – 4 x World Champion – photo by Graeme Murray

Overall results after Sprint, H2H and today’s Slalom:
Open Men
1) Team Teikei Japan (JAP) 564 points
2) Ghost Chips (NZL) 555 points
3) Bestie Czech (CZE) 483 points
4) Team Doric Sydney (AUS) 432 points
5) Team Cairns (AUS) 414 points
6) OCP (NZL) 396 points
Masters Men
1) Aotearoa Paddlers 588 points
2) BTA 540 points
Open Women
1) Okere Ladies 600 points


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