Race postponed

Dangerously high flows in the Clutha River from recent heavy rainfall have forced the postponement of this week's inaugural Wild Descent kayak adventure race.

The 261km, four-stage team event was scheduled to start on Thursday morning at the river outlet in Wanaka, finishing on Sunday at Kaka Point. It had attracted some big names in adventure racing, including Steve Gurney, Keith Murray and Sophie Hart.

However, with the river still running at more than 750cumecs near Wanaka yesterday, and nearly 1400cumecs at Balclutha, a decision was made last night to delay the race until mid to late April.

''Obviously the river flows are pretty unprecedented at this time of year and first and foremost we've got to think about competitor safety,'' one of the race directors, Warren Bates, said.

The Wild Descent race is organised by 100% Pure Racing, the Queenstown-based company behind the Godzone adventure race. Its directors are Mr Bates, Anna Bastin and Adam Fairmaid.

The trio had been in constant contact with team captains, Contact Energy - which controls the water flows at the Hawea, Clyde and Roxburgh dams, local safety and multisport advisers, and Queenstown Lakes district harbourmaster Marty Black, to assess whether the race could proceed.

''The universal view was that the upper section [of the river] was probably no go for sure and the bottom section was marginal,'' Mr Bates said.

''We know a lot of people have prepared for it [the race] but they're just going to have to be patient for it for another couple of months.''

Organisers had considered shifting the event to another river, but maintained the Clutha was the best option.

About 30 teams had entered, although since the river had risen, ''there's been a few nervous people pulling away''.

A new date for the race will be announced later this week once organisers have confirmed a time which will not clash with any other events on the river.


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