The CRNZ New Zealand Kayak Marathon Championships were contested yesterday on Porirua
harbour, near Wellington. Early morning drizzle gave way to good overcast racing conditions
with strengthening northerlies testing some paddlers. With the largest field in recent memory
assembled, the racing was sure to be exciting.
It was former sprint world kayak champion and Olympic silver medallist Ben Fouhy
(representing North Shore) who won his 5th national title over the marathon distance by a
comfortable margin. Fouhy, the pre-race favourite, was not cruising to victory though
demonstrating excellent technique and efficiency at the compulsory portage on each of the
seven laps, keeping the hammer down on and off the water throughout the 2 hours and 7
minutes of racing.
Behind him was a hot race for the minor placings between NZ sprint squad member Fred Teear
(Arawa) and Australian based former Wellingtonian, Matt Blundell. These two paddlers were
inseperable for six of the seven race laps until the more experienced Blundell made a gap with
a final strong portage. Blundell, a former winner of the Australian kayak marathon
championships and fastest paddler at this year’s Speight’s Coast to Coast extended his gap to
finish a minute and a half clear of Teear, but still almost 7 minutes behind the winner.
Pre-race favourite, Marianne Archer (Mana) of Wellington, was again too good clearing out to
dominate the women’s field to win her 5th successive national marathon title. A veteran
of many world kayak marathon champs, Archer powered away and was unchallenged from
start to finish. 2nd across the line was local under 23 New Zealand representative paddler,
Kayla Imrie. And in 3rd pace was this year’s fastest women paddler at Speight’s Coast to Coast,
Christchurch’s Olivia Spencer-Bower.
There was some great racing throughout the categories which included athletes paddling
mostly K1′s but also multisport kayaks, ocean racing skis and waka. The multi-lap 4km course
proved to be popular amongst the athletes.
Ben Fouhy is heading to Australia next week to compete at the Australian kayak marathon
champs in Geelong, Victoria. There, he will be up against Matt Blundell once again and will
surely be racing well performed marathon paddler Michael Leverett, among the best that
Australia has to offer. Fouhy has also signalled an interest in representing New Zealand at the
world kayak marathon champs in Singapore later in the year - all as part of his base training for
next year’s Olympics in London.