Entrants in the four-day Wild Descent kayak race on the
Clutha River approach the starting line at the Albert Town
bridge yesterday morning. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
After two postponements in as many years, the Wild
Descent kayak race on the Clutha River started in perfect
conditions in Albert Town yesterday.
The four-day 261km, race to Molyneux Bay, near Balclutha, had
been scheduled to take place in January, but was delayed
because of dangerously high river levels - the same problem
that put last year's inaugural event back several months.
Race director Adam Fairmaid said this year's delay resulted
in seven two-person teams from Australia withdrawing from the
event, leaving just 10 New Zealand pairs on yesterday
morning's start line below the Albert Town bridge. Last year
26 teams took part.
Many entrants liked to use the event as training for the
Godzone adventure race, but that was held last month.
''So there's less incentive to come now,'' Mr Fairmaid said.
The revised dates had also clashed with other events,
including the Contact Epic mountain bike race at Lake Hawea
and the Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race at Murchison.
''There's a lot of people spread very thinly ... But for the
competitors who committed to it, we were still very keen to
run the race and give them an enjoyable challenge.''
Wild Descent was a ''long, hard race'', which involved ''mind
games'' between competitors.
''It's really a game of chess out there because it's very
hard to get away from a team of equal ability, so ... there's
a lot of tactics going on at the front of the field. It might
not look obvious to the casual observer but there's a real
battle going on.''
It was a sprint finish in the first leg through to Clyde
yesterday, winners Sean Murphy and Andrew Mewick, of
Auckland, coming in just 5sec ahead of Christchurch pair Ian
Huntsman and Wendy Riach in a time of 6hr 7min.
The race continues on to Roxburgh today, then to Clydevale
tomorrow and to the finish line at Molyneux Bay on Sunday. A
prizegiving will be held at Kaka Point.
Last year's winners were the Australian-Kiwi team of Matt
Blundell and Michael Snell, who are not competing this year.