Four-day trip comes to an end

The Seagull crew which travelled the length of the Clutha River, from left, Phil Wiel, Daniel...
The Seagull crew which travelled the length of the Clutha River, from left, Phil Wiel, Daniel Wilkinson (who joined the boat at Clydevale yesterday), Donald Stewart, John Dale and Dave Anderson after safely arriving at Kaitangata yesterday afternoon. Photo by Glenn Conway.
Sunburnt, tired yet exhilarated - the only Seagull boat crew to navigate the entire Clutha River arrived safely at Kaitangata yesterday.

Wakatipu men Donald Stewart, Phil Wiel, Dave Anderson and John Dale, together with Mr Stewart's 11-year-old nephew, Daniel Wilkinson, of Milton, slowly turned the bend on the river towards Kaitangata about 4.10pm and were greeted at the nearby boat ramp 10 minutes later by a small-but-enthusiastic crowd of supporters.

It brought to an end a journey that started four days ago. Their inflatable rescue boat was one of 12 boats and dinghies taking part in the 325km "Seagull Run" from Lake Wanaka to the Otago coast by way of the Clutha River.

Their crew were the only ones to make the entire journey and the celebrations were expected to go into the night in the South Otago township last night.

After disembarking from his boat, Mr Stewart told the Otago Daily Times the last leg - from Millers Flat to Kaitangata - had been the hardest, especially negotiating the set of rapids near Beaumont.

There was also the other end of the scale - boredom - as the crew puttered along waterways with little scenery.

"We went from one extreme to the other today," Mr Stewart said.

The journey was a great way to see the countryside and to solidify friendships.

The highlight was seeing the Roxburgh Dam up close and personal, he said.

But asked whether he would consider another journey, Mr Stewart took a cautious approach.

"Not for a year or two. I might need a bit of time."

Billed as an event rather than a race, the Seagull Run aimed to claim a world record for the longest powerboat "race" using Seagull outboard engines.

Whether a new record had been set yesterday was still unclear.

Most crews were too busy celebrating to care for now.


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