The Hawea River played host to the 2014 NZ Freestyle Kayak Nationals over the last weekend of March. The event coincided with the NZ Slalom Championships and saw almost a hundred kayakers descend on the Hawea Whitewater Park.
The Freestyle Events drew a smaller, but very committed field than the slalom and competitors fought it out in a two feature event. Each entrant received 3 rides on the bottom wave and 3 on the top hole. Entrants could drop there lowest scoring ride on each feature and the overall title was awarded to the best combined results over the weekend.
The Open Mens and Under 18 Mens were both hotly contested as Stephen Bartlett, Jason Searle and Robert Hervey all looked strong on day one, only for Robert Hervey to pull out of Sunday’s event with a shoulder entry. Jason and Stephen showcased the high level that freestyle is reaching in New Zealand with strong and consistent rides on both features. Jason took the win on the wave, while Stephen claimed the hole competition. With scores tied the final result fell to our tie-breaker rules where only the best ride on each feature counted. Using this information Stephen claimed the top honors of 2014 NZ Freestyle Champion. Jason wasn’t left empty handed as after a check of results after results were first released he in fact won the overall C1 National Title.
In the Junior Mens Max Rayner succesfully defended his title, but was pushed by fellow Alexandra paddler, and in the hole a strong performance and huge loops from Invercargill’s Justin MacGregor kept everyone’s attention.
The women’s field was small this year and defending NZ Champ Courtney Kerin played it safe on her rides due to recovering from a shoulder injury. Courtney still held her title comfortably. Young Lotte Rayner showed her new routine after recent training with Claire O’Hara and at only 12yrs old claimed the Under 18 Womens title.
Full Results are attached in PDF for Wave, Hole and Overall.