Monday, April 07, 2014

Sunday, April 06, 2014

2014 Junior & U23 World Champs

7 more sleeps until the team departs, check out the event here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Munich to New Zealand

Well the end of this wonderful trip has come - a wee bit of a sleep in for some in the morning followed by a pretty good buffet breakfast with a wonderful range of pastries and eggs and meats and breads and cereal and fruit...... then began the task of cleaning out the vans. The boats needed to be unloaded from the trailer and dried out along with all the paddling gear - that done some of the kids crawled into the vans and tossed out the rubbish. There was a fair amount of left over belongings collected from our accommodation in Liptovsky which of course nobody owned - how can you not own spray decks and lifevests and paddling tops and undies and teeshirts and socks ..... it all got spread out on the grass and was gradually whittled down - just as well because someones kid had no undies at all ....
Aaron and Dale returned the U23 car and Dale picked up the rental for Wendy and him to travel off into the sunset .... if only it was that easy!! Kids needed to fill in the whole day because they didn't fly till after 10 last night - they were all keen for a Munich city experience but getting parking in the city for the big vans was proving to be a game breaker .... maybe catching the train in from the airport was the best option ...... now this bit of the trip your paddler will have to tell you about ..... we have no idea what they did or what they saw while they were in the city with Pavel and Martin and Aaron.
Next piece of information we had was that they were on their way back from town and that they had had a good time ....then 3 hours later the best news of all, the boats were checked in no hassles no excess baggage fees .... everything went smoothly - such a relief for everyone. Your paddlers are flying home.
The past 4 weeks have been wonderful, smooth sailing and very easy to manage. Your kids with no exceptions have been a credit to their families and New Zealand. (although we tried to disown poor old Dan when he was a little ill in a tiny cobbled street in Lubljiana ) Everyone of them have stepped up a notch with their paddling. They have experienced paddling at 5 different European kayak courses, they have seen castles and tiny cobbled villages, venice and canals and gondolas, caves and immodest Europeans in their undies. They have eaten " fry pan food" without complaint, real Italian Pizza in Venice and experienced more car park lunches than they care to remember. They have worked out how to communicate with people who have very limited english - they have worked out how to buy stuff with a currency other than new zealand dollars - and Lukes managed to build up a diplomatic liaison with the Slovakian girls kayak team ... and every kid has built links and made friends across a very wide cross section of paddlers from around the world. We have new boats and paddles, new paddling gear and hopefully a renewed determination to train hard and achieve to the best of each paddlers ability. We were very pleased to be able to help support the team on this trip - we don't often have the opportunity to give our support to kayaking and have really appreciated the chance to be a part of this trip with these kids. Our coaches were fabulous and worked tirelessly day after day to enable our kids to achieve. Good luck to everyone in their future endeavors.
the old city of Verona - Wendy and Dales holiday begins

writing the last blog on the terrace above the Mediterranean sea on the Cinque terre - with wine at long last

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

leaving Liptovsky - heading to Munich

Up early - massive pack up operation after a very early breakfast - already running behind schedule and stress levels rising - didn't bode well for the day to come .... we had planned to get to Bratislava for a surprise paddle on the course between 11 and 12 which was the only time available to us - kids were slow to move in the morning - needing prodding and poking to get the vans loaded - strangely enough no one owned the spray decks and helmets and paddle tops and undies and tee shirts and socks etc etc etc - which were collected from around the clotheslines and bedrooms ..... finally managed to get away with the Gilberts and Kellie following us - we had plugged the indicators for the trailer in back to front and so it made it really hard for the direction challenged Gilberts to actually follow us and try and anticipate which way we were actually turning - problem fixed at the 2 hours stop off .... running really late by now but finally arrived at Bratislava over half an hour late for the session but the nice people let us have an hour session anyway - kids were off - that got them moving - boats off the trailer, gear on and running to the start pool - girls were the only ones to actually scout the course - boys yahooing and surfing and taking the plunge down Niagara (the very large bottom drop) - back to the top to do it all again. Lunch eaten for the last time under the trees in the car park - very hot day - loaded back up and set off for the 5 hour haul to Munich and trying to get there in time to go out to the Hoff House for dinner - this turned out to be one step too far and discovering a crack in the tow bar of the trailer slowed us up for the last 250km. Tired kids rallied for a team dinner in the conference room of the hotel before bed.
at the bottom of Niagara

Martin in action catching the action

Jess down the falls

packing up 
the last car park lunch

Monday, July 22, 2013

last day of racing

Another cloudless day although there was a bit of a cool breeze on the stands in the shade - heaps of spectators and a very full car park - we have been warned about gear going missing as teams begin to leave and pack up not only their own gear but others as well .... the British have lost paddles. Finals all morning with very exciting racing in K1w and C1m. This afternoon we had the last of the teams races with four teams from our group competing. 
First off were the K1WU23 girls of Anna, Robin and Haylee (doing a cameo appearance for this team). They had a number of touches and a couple of 50's and finished well back in the field - they were followed by the K1WU18 of Jess, Deahna and Haylee again - they also hit a number of gates, had 3 50's and Jess and Deahna both managed to fit in a roll as well - (they were looking for bonus points ....) 
Jess, on the roll, Deahna coming down
 The C1M of Ben, Shaun and Patrick did a better job of the course with no 50's but still finished well down the very competitive field - they worked well as a team but didn't have the pace of the top teams.
middle paddler Patrick followed by Shaun at the tail
 Finally the C1MU18 of Callum, Marcus and Tommy also did a better job of the course with no 50's but a pretty high number of touches meant they were well outside of the top finishing times. Fortunately during the breaks we were entertained again and again and again by the dancing girls - who had stepped up to matching costumes and by the end of the day were getting pretty good at the dance because they did the same one each time ..... the music for  this competed with the horns and drums and clackers and whirly gigs ( and trumpets today!!!!)and the announcer - but sometimes they just turned the dancing music off in the middle of the dance routine and the girls just kept dancing anyway or stood there with their hands on their hips - very funny -

yeah - go the dancing girls !!

yeah - go Slovakian horn lady!
 The day came to an end with the medal ceremonies for the days finals and the massive pack up operation for all the teams began - there were boats and trailers and people and vans and smelly kayaking gear everywhere. We had gained an extra 7 boats to try and load and it was a nightmare - the jigsaw of which ones go where is inside Martins head and he was working hard to fit them all in - we have ended up with boats inside the vans again but managed to just have them loaded on the bottom layer. Just need to fit the bags and paddling gear around them tomorrow morning and life will be sweet.
Headed home for dinner which was rounded off beautifully by the arrival of Claire and Roger Gilbert with chocolate, vanilla and caramel layered icecream, peaches and wafer rolls for dessert.Thank you very much - it was a great finish to our time here in this Penzion. Very early start tomorrow as we need to be up and loaded and away by 10 to 7 in the morning. We are heading to Bratislava to stop off and look at the course and have our lunch and then the long haul to Munich.
card games after dinner
Barbara and Callum .... 

Team outside the front door of Penzion Kristin - what a great bunch - (Tommy and the U23 have gone already)
Mr and Mrs Munro will be pleased with how much Dan has grown in height since he's been away, both Dale and Matthew are over 6 foot and he's nearly as tall as them ...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Finals and Teams

A cooler day today and after breakfast everybody headed to the course to watch the first of the finals. Bigger crowds today with the parking in the paddock across from the course 3 or 4 rows deep - we try to move down one end of the grandstand to keep away from the very noisy Germans, Slovakians and Polish people who today introduced big drums to their noise makers of choice. The speakers for the commentator are right in front of the centre of the stands and when he is not talking above pre-recorded music, they have fiercely loud rock and rap music blarring which gets turned up even louder when a slovakian paddler is on the course - which happened heaps today during the finals. Headache material and not that pleasant - however it does mean that our end of the stands is not that crowded which is good. Sandwiched between the runs on a stage opposite the grandstand they had displays of dancing girls in mismatched costumes, mismatched footwork, and it was a bit like watching your kids dancing in their bedrooms when they think you aren't looking.
finals watching - quiet end of the stands!

Marcus in the middle

The mens K1 finals were magic to watch with the top 3 places on the score board changing after each new run. It was top class racing on a very challenging course dominated in the end mostly by the European paddlers. Our guys competed in the K1U23m teams, K1U18m  teams and the C2U18m teams events this afternoon. It was very obvious that the Slovakian, Slovenian, Polish and Czech teams had all spent time practising together for these events and the most important thing to do was to not 50 ..... we didn't manage that bit very well with all the teams incurring 50's to some degree or another. However our teams were certainly not the most chaotic and at times there was a bit of a muddle on the course when the teams weaving turned into knitting with knots - and the tangle of boats made for entertaining viewing. Judging must have been a nightmare and in fact all the European teams had inquiries lodged both for and against them and results changed even after results were finalised - go figure!! Our C2 boys of Luke and Dan had gotten a bit rusty having had a day off and managed to 50 the first gate in the teams run and another 50 and a roll for good measure further down the course. Marcus and Finn looked calm and confident but we know they were petrified and hanging onto their seat belts - however they managed the clean bit of the teams run and were followed down the course by the newbies to C2 Patrick and Tommy who coped very well with their
cameo appearance - ended up at the wrong end of the score board for medals.  Junior K1 run with Callum, Matthew and Finn was marred by a 50 early on - Callum was leading by a large margin in this race run but that's not the point in teams racing and Matthew and Finn brought up the rear today - cute but ineffective for medalling - entertaining. The K1U23 men managed to clock up a few 50's and a number of touches but never got into a tangle so that was good. Our girls and C1M don't really have a hard act to follow tomorrow, but the number of clean runs over the entire competition has been incredibly low so they will have their work cut out managing some low scoring runs.
u23k1 Matthew and Shaun doing the upstream gate dance

Matthew, Shaun and Malcolm negotiating the treacherous last two gates 

team run planning with Martin and Pavel ......

Martin working on the teams strategy with boys ..... don't think they were listening as well as they should have

This evening we went out for dinner and were joined by Maureen and Kensa, Agnieszka, Mr Polaczyk and Lukasz, his brother Gregor and his partner and baby and also Claire and Roger Gilbert who managed to find the restaurant unaided.
The old town centre of Liptovksy ,at night, is quite attractive compared to the rest of the town and the kids all found an icecream shop for dessert and then we headed home - more racing tomorrow and then we need to start on the packing up of boats and gear in readiness for an early start to Munich on Monday morning.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

race day 3

Headed off to our first semi finals day taking staggered loads in during the morning so that those who wanted to, could watch the U23K1m semi finals - returning home for an early lunch and then everyone back to the course for the afternoons racing.
Ella, K1 heats
On Wednesday Ella raced the heats of the C1 U23 women for the Cook Islands and did a very commendable job of making her way down a difficult course - unfortunately she just missed the cut for the semis and yesterday she raced heats of the K1 U23 women which is more her specialty. She looked calm and focussed on both her runs but 4 touches each time put her outside of the 30 boats to go through to the semis. We always look forward to catching up with her at the course each day.
main scoreboard and live screen - Callums run
Callum and Finn were our only semi finalists up today in the K1 U18. A scary prospect with a very very competent field. Callum was first off and came down the course well, touching two gates at 7 and 8. Gate 8 was the subject of an enquiry as nobody saw the touch - it was removed by the chief judge after the video review, however they spotted a 50 at gate 6 and despite a full hour of negotiations refused to remove it saying it was clear and concise evidence on the video. This video review is done of everyones semi final and finals runs and times could change. Callums time prior to the 50 being added was 117.73 which put him outside the qualification time for the final . Finn came down the course strongly and incurred at touch at the infamous gate 7, his split time at halfway was up with the leaders but a small mistake further down the course when he spun a gate put him just outside the final qualification time in a time of 110.74, leaving him in 16th place. These two boys have done incredibly well to make the semis in the most competitive field of the competition.
Race day favourites of Michal Smolen of the USA and Jessica Fox of Australia both missed places in their semi finals of K1 U23 showing just how difficult, cut throat and competitive this racing is. Jessica Fox won a silver medal at the London Olympics.
Callum on his semi final run with the new zealand groupies cheering him on

Athletes tents clearing out at the semi finals stage although the team from Great Britain still took up the whole end
tea on the driveway - can you guess whose dirty feet are sticking out from behind the door.....?????

Home for tea at the end of the day - once again eating happened outside - Pavel and Martin and Barbara went out for tea as our treat. Tomorrow is finals morning and the first of the teams racing in the afternoon.

YES - its our man Dan

Friday, July 19, 2013

racing day two

Another very long and tiring day with lots of disappointment mixed in for good measure. First off this morning were the U23w K1 with Robins first run seeing her struggling with the conditions but she stepped up during her second run and cut almost 30 seconds off her time still leaving her outside of the semis qualification time, Anna's first run was her best of the day with a 50 in her second run and her time not taking her through to the semi final. The field in U23 K1 women is very competitive on a reasonably hard course which many of the paddlers struggled with and there were not very many clean runs all day. 
C1m U23 saw Patrick off first with a good steady run with a couple of mistakes and a couple of touches, he also had a 50 in his second run after capsizing through a gate. Shaun's first run was quick but with 2 touches he needed a good second run to make semis and unfortunately two more touches and a slower run time put him out past the magic 30 boats which progress. Ben had two touches on his first run which was slower than he wanted and he managed to step it up and knock 4 seconds off his second run but two touches left him still just outside of the semis cut off.
Deahna, Haylee and Jess all had a tough day, the competition was fierce and the course demanding of their skills. Again there were lots of 50's in the field and there were some very slow times from other paddlers mixed throughout the runs. Haylee had a faster run in her second run, Jess had a 50 in her second run and Deahna caught an edge and got tipped in a strong eddy and grated against the rocks and came out to be rescued by a handsome frogman. She spent the rest of the afternoon looking for him to thank him and maybe to kiss him and turn him into a prince. 
Finally the C1u18m with Callum, Marcus and Tommy - too many touches in a competitive field put paid to their semi finals hopes although Tommys second run with only one touch was a big improvement. Marcus had a 50 in his first run with only one touch and although he went faster in the second run he hit 5 gates. Callum was consistent with .03 between his two runs.

We are grateful that Callum hasn't inherited his parents sense of direction and can navigate his way down the course. His parents need a GPS to find the coffee cart - not to mention the fact that they travelled from Vienna to Liptovsky Mikulas via Hungary and its capital city of Budapest - which if you look on your maps is actually almost the opposite direction to that they were supposed to be travelling, they had difficulty getting to the course today from their accommodation and last seen were headed for their apartment or maybe Austria? Actually its great to have them around and we have also been joined by Maureen Crompton and Kensa Randle, Agnieszka and family friends of Deahnas - so we are a group almost as big as the noisy Germans with their clackers and whizzers and wonderful horns.
Kellie Bailey at her judging station
 Despite rumours to the contrary, so far the event has been very well managed - there has been the odd minor glitch but its not difficult to get someone to give you an answer to any query we may have. We are grateful to the judges who sit out in the hot sun all day long looking at the same stretch of water - our own Kellie Bailey is at gate 7 ....

Malcolm and Matthew, pausing in their run along the side supporting one of ours
There are three of these big score boards situated along the course and a huge screen with the live footage alongside
top of the course cameraman - 

Ben during his second run this morning
Shaun in the start pool


Finn on the drop
Finn and Callum are the only ones racing tomorrow in the semi final K1 U18 m after lunch.

Headed home just after 6 this evening for dinner, unfortunately Wendy managed to blow all the fuses in the kitchen so the boys had to have one of the trusty fry pans in their bedroom to cook the chicken drums - all fed and definitely more relaxed this evening with the pressure off most, so out came the cards and the computer games. Going to the course in the morning to watch U23 K1m semi finals, back home for lunch and then back to the course for the U18 semis.

Pavel, Dan, Luke, Martin, Ben and Aaron

Marcus, Finn, Anna, Matthew, Patrick

Thursday, July 18, 2013

race day 1

Race Day .... weather warm this morning, perfect paddling weather, then as the day wore on it was hot and calm till the wind picked up a little around about 6pm - there was still almost 2 hours of paddling to go by this time of night and the sun was going down and shining right up the course into the paddlers eyes. Such big fields to get through that the day began with first runs at 8am and the last run of the day at 7.54pm -

Kids were scheduled to be at the course at staggered intervals with the first arriving just before 7am and all the team on site by 11.30am. The girls didn't race today but showed their support for those who were racing by yelling and cheering - they almost managed to drown out the contingent of German supporters who were armed with very loud wooden clackers and horns and whirly gig things which should be banned from the whole world. The TVS room for video downloading was located in the new building and was a hive of activity with representatives from every country involved downloading the live video feeds so the coaches and paddlers could view the runs to check judging and learn from their mistakes. Many thanks to the Australians and Martins friend in Prague who eventually solved our down loading problems remotely through Martins computer. Also big thanks to Aaron and Martin who spent every spare minute they had in this room. The room was a jumble of cords and plugs and computers and bits and bytes and electronic equipment which would be enough to set any computer geek off into a frenzy.
TVS room - Aaron just hidden behind Matt Webster (australian support) and Martin next to Tom from Poland
Lots of people had headaches with the download process .... however the guys managed to eventually capture good footage

Roger and Claire Gilbert joined the New Zealand contingent on the new stands 
 Shaun was sick today and didn't race so Malcolm was first up of our team. Both his runs were fast enough to make the semi but gate touches meant he finished just outside the cut off for the semis (top 40) U18 K1 men were next up after lunch and first away was Matthew in a field of over 80 paddlers. His first run of 116 was good but again 2 touches meant he had to try to be clean in his second run - an early 50 put paid to this and unfortunately he missed the semi final cut. Callum was next up with a time of 110.99 and Finn with a time of 109.26. Callum retained his first run time as his best time and Finn managed to come down to 107.40.
It was nail biting stuff during the second runs for both these boys as the times came down and they were edged further down the field. Finn made semis in 30 position and Callum in 37th position.
The U18 C2 boys were up next and Luke and Dan had a run time of 138.62 but had a 50 and 3 touches to put their first run at 194.62.  They were having a great run in their second run and had a single touch almost at the bottom and went speeding into the last gate and over shot it and had to come back and added precious seconds to their time which put them just outside the semi final cut off of 20 boats.
Finn and Marcus didn't race the first run in the C2 because it was right in the middle of Finns K1 runs. They got together to compete the second run with the sun in their eyes and their knees shaking, petrified out of their skins - however as you can see from the photo below the wee boys gave them some much needed advice on the start line. They managed to get down the course without a 50 but with 4 touches which also left them out of the semi final - they were very pleased to make it down without rolling, tipping out or crashing into the wall. Luke and Dan, as the fastest crew, are in charge of the tactics for the C2 teams race so it should make very entertaining viewing.
sage advice from Luke and Dan

That saw the end of the very long day - big thank you to Anna and Ben who had returned home earlier in the day and received a facebook message from Wendy via Malcolm to ask them to cook tea - instructions followed and they pulled it off beautifully - meant Wendy could stay at the course and watch Finns runs and the C2 show. Another early start tomorrow with the girls all racing and also the C1 boys.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

live results

Just realised the easiest way to get to the live streaming of results is to click on the junior and U23 link at the right hand side of this blog and it takes you to the event website, then click on results and the live streaming will come up;
Live streaming and start lists here
There is also a link and info on here

demos, parades and dancing girls

This mornings session saw us sharing the water with 72 boats with only three quarters of an hour allowed - the ICF had decided that to make it work everyone would have just two runs, leaving at 20 second intervals and doing a full run down the course with no stopping ..... yeah right. You do the maths - they didn't allow enough time for everyone to get two runs for a starter and you know paddlers - they don't take any notice of  "don't stop in the eddies, keep going, don't practice your crosses ....." add in the odd roll, swim and dawdle and you have a recipe for disaster.  The session before us was very entertaining with only 65 boats on the water but heaps of crashes and stressed paddlers cursing each other .... some pretty aggressive paddling was observed. The course is very busy with boat scrutineering, bib collection, start lists, accreditation, parking, bad parking, blocking the way parking, boats everywhere and hundreds of people. Today the weather has improved with a little bit of a cool breeze this morning but the afternoon was hot and sunny for the demonstration runs at 4pm. The course is not that hard (according to Pavel and Martin) but has long stretches of sprinting at the top end followed by more technical gates from half way down. You can catch the live streaming on the link on the ICF page. Tomorrow we have U23 k1 men Shaun at 8.43 and 11.09 and Malcolm at 9.10 and 1.36. Followed in the afternoon by the U18 K1 men Matthew at 14.50 and 17.51, Callum 15.21 and 18.12 and Finn at 15.35 and 18.26. The U18 C2 Finn and Marcus 16.34 and 19.25 and Dan and Luke at 16.43 and 19.34. and that's it for tomorrow.
just one of the many aisles of hundreds of boats in storage

watching demos

the humped back bridge with our lot watching demos on a very overloaded bridge
Tonight was the opening ceremony and we all assembled in the centre of the old town to get into line for the parade. There were young people dressed in national costume holding each countries name and we lined up alongside. Ella, representing the Cook Islands, had almost the youngest name bearer of the lot.
Ella and her Slovakian girl

Ella in the parade

New Zealand team with Patrick as the flag bearer
entering the square

turning into the square to form up alongside the 44 other countries
listening to the speeches, spoken in both Slovakian and English
the dancing girls entertainment after the speeches
Martin loving the dancing girls
It was pretty cool watching the parade of all the athletes and their support crews - there were lots of people watching and clapping and once everyone was assembled in the square there was a welcome song played by two guitarists followed by a few speeches, none of which were too long and all of which were translated in to English. You got the feeling that the people associated with the event, which by the way is the biggest canoe slalom event yet, were all very proud to be hosting so many countries here in Liptovsky Mikulas. After the speeches the guy in charge announced that we would now be entertained by the cultural part of the festivities and on came some dancing girls - doing a kind of cheerleading, areobics, hip hop, 'dancing with the stars' interpretation of a Slovakian pop song. Everyone loved it, Martin swayed in time to the music, and after one item that was it, all over. Home we came. Dale and Aaron away to a 'Banquet' for team leaders etc - and the kids all had a second tea since the first one was eaten at 5.15 before we left and of course they were all hungry again by 7.30 when we arrived home. Early start tomorrow for some and then staggered arrival to the course for the others - these next few days will be very long and the kids will have to pace themselves.