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- Katie Cambie

“Hey Kate check it out. You won a entry to the Clutha Classic” This was the last thing I wanted to hear just an hour or so after completing The Rasdex Classic River Race. That race had been so tough and I was quite simply a broken mess. Oh great I thought another kayak race!

Well we all know how good we are at forgetting the pain and suffering of these things so a week later I found myself thinking about making my debut at The Clutha Classic. A fun road trip down to Wanaka with Sam, complete with a compulsory stop at the Fairlie Bakery and Team Topsport were ready to take on this strange unfamiliar river. It was rather an unusual feeling. I am so use to knowing the twists and turns of our own river better than most.

Thursday morning and its race day. How weird is that? Sam, Simone and I arrive to a very welcoming and relaxed atmosphere on the foreshore of Lake Wanaka, everyone enjoying the holiday season vibe. The race I hear is handicapped. How does this all work? Better ask the regulars so it’s off to find Wendy and Ian. I soon learn Ian has put us all in start waves and it’s pretty simple - the first across the line wins. Right, that’s different. I need a game plan. I am thinking an easy start across the Lake (it’s already baking hot, I haven’t done much paddling these past few weeks plus it’s the middle of the holidays - all perfect excuses right?) then I can try and take the lead once we get to the river.

The race starts and the other girls are happy to let me lead and set the pace across the lake, it is a very enjoyable start to the race. The lake is clear and the views are simply amazing. It’s easy to see why so many paddlers make the effort to get here. Once our group arrives at the river it’s time for me to try and make a move. I am a little worried about not knowing the river. Having heard about a few features to look out for I am not sure if trying to get a lead so early on is such a good idea but I am going to give it go anyway. I start to put the effort in and my speed increases accordingly. I gradually pull away and find myself with a small gap over Simone and Alex. The river is beautiful; the rapids are fun and the company of the other paddlers on the water is comforting. I soon found myself settling in and having a great time. There are a couple features that get my hear rate up. I pass a few paddlers taking a dip (why not, it’s a great day for it) in one of the longer rapids nearer the start. Then there’s Devil Elbow and Shitters Ditch which both pass without incident. Before I know it my watch tells me I have hit 45km, just 10kms to go. I paddle hard and increase my lead ever so slightly. Simone and Alex are close behind me finishing about minute and a half back. They have both paddled exceptionally well. Sam has had a great paddle too and claimed the fastest male time so it’s a Topsport double for this one. All that was left to do? Head to Lake Wanaka for a cold swim and some kumara fries!

Open Female Fastest Time – Katie Cambie 3 Hours and 24 Minutes

Open Male Fastest Time – Sam Manson 3 Hours and 07 Minutes

Thanks to the Southern Lakes

Multisport Club for a great race. Perfectly timed if you are racing Coast to Coast. I would highly recommend it and will definitely be back!

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