|TEVA 2005 Wairoa Whitewater Extreme Race, New Zealand's premier whitewater race, with time trial and head-to-head (boater cross) races on Class IV and V. Over 8 years this event has developed into one of the World's best whitewater races.|
Saturday 12th of February: Time Trial on the Wairoa River from the put-in below McLaren Falls to just above The Waterfall rapid. Fastest time by last year's champion Mike Dawson from Tauranga who did this section in 5 min 19 sec. In the Women's class, Nikki Kelly won the time trial in 5 min 46 sec.
71 Men and 12 Women entered the race. Only the top 64 Men after the time trial made the cut to compete in Sunday's Head-to-Head Races down The Waterfall and Rollercoaster Rapids. The 7 losers received a bottle of tequila (courtesy of NZ Adventure Magazine) at the Bliss-Stick Party on Saturday night to consolate for lost racing time. Everybody else enjoyed themselves too: Lion Breweries supported the event very, very generously by supplying vast amounts of Lion Pils, a great beer to keep the party going. DJ Hayden played the tunes till about midnight and the portable spa (which took up to 14 people at a time) had still some people sitting in it at dawn!
Sunday 15th of February: With new rules in effect this year (no Right Line) and closed Chicken Chute from the Quarter (Men) and Semi (Women) Finals onwards races in both classes got extremely tight. In the Men's Class three times winner Donald Johnstone and last year's champion Mike Dawson dropped out in the 3rd round. Mikey Abbott and John Snook had a similar fate. Biggest upset probably was Anton Cummings wiping out Ben Brown in the 1st round. Jarred Meehan, one of the top local contenders, dropped out with a dislocated shoulder. Toby Robertson progressed into the Semi-Finals for the second year in a row but Bernd Sommer (Okere Falls) proved to be too strong and moved into the Final instead. The second Semi-Final was between employer/employee Kenny Mutton/Johann Roozenburg (rumour had it that Kenny offered Johann a pay rise if he would let him win!). Johann beat Kenny with brilliant stall-out tactics and lots of speed and finally walked up the rapid for the 5th time this day to meet Bernd Sommer in the Final.
Johann was leading the final race for most of the way. Only at the entry to Rollercoaster Bernd Sommer came very close and could have kicked Johann off line, but being cool, calm and calculating, Johann slowed down right in fromt of Bernd which kicked him off line and gave Johann the extra lead he needed to carry home the gold. Johann Roozenburg new champion, taking home $ 1000 prize money donated by TEVA.
The Women's race was equally exciting and action packed. With two top competitors from Australia (Tania Faux and Georgia Lepastrier) in the field and Nikki Kelly and Heather Jull (2nd last year) rated as favourites, the outcome of the races was all open.
Nikki Kelly dropped out against newcomer Louise Urwin. Louise showed great consistency and moved on from round to round until she found herself in the Final. Heather Jull came true to her favourite status and had mostly clean runs against all her competitors. Heather dominated the final against Louise even though Louise stayed close at all times waiting to cash in on a mistake by her opponent. Heather Jull won the Women's title and received $ 500 prize money donated by TEVA. The winners of the Head-to-Heads (as well as the fastest paddlers in Men's and Women's of day one) also received thermal tops from sponsor Fourth Element. The Bliss-Stick kayak was won by Tim Nel from South Africa and a large amount of spot prizes (Palm PFDs and paddle jackets, Bomber Gear kayaking accessories) was donated by Topline Agencies and www.paddle-power.com. NZ Adventure Magazine is going to publish up to 8 pages of race report and photos in the April 2005 issue and donated two 1-year magazine subscriptions as well as the "Adventure Magazine Carnage Award" which this year went to Jarred Meehan for dislocating his shoulder. Thanks also to Red Bull for supplying all racers and spectators with the stuff that gives you wings, they definitely needed it during a hard day of racing and walking back up to the start line over house size boulders. Full results are on www.paddle-power.com.
Finalists from left to right: Johann Roozenburg, Bernd Sommer, Louise Urwin, Heather Jull