2016 Xmas @ Kaituna Happenings

Xmas @ Kaituna 2016

This Xmas @ Kaituna is strictly social, and seriously fun. Sure we’re racing but but the day is all about having a great time and sharing some Christmas stoke. The recipe seems to be working as the event continues to grow in size every year, with 2016 no exception as a record 85 paddlers amassed for the annual bash on the Kaituna river the weekend before Christmas.

A progressing down river boater X starts the day with the river divided into 4 sections, 4 person heats, with the top 2 making it through to the next round on the next section of river. 85 paddlers packed into the eddies of the Kaituna makes for a super social race, a great chance for everyone to catch up and also meet new people. To mix things up and keep it even a mystery touch banner is stationed somewhere down each section in which competitors must find and touch before heading to the finish. Local speedsters Carl Whitehead and Toni George took out the mens and women’s categories respectively.

And as if that wasn’t enough boatercross next up was the ‘8 Ball’ race. Held on the slalom course at the top of the river, it’s a mad dash straight down the short course to the finish… If only it was that easy.

Rafts, Topo duos, kayakers, inflatables hanging from the bridge and fire hoses from West Rotoiti Fire Brigade are waiting down the course all with one common goal in mind – getting in YOUR way.

In this race its possible to go from zero to hero and back to zero again all within 100m of whitewater, so you’ve gotta be lucky and fast… but mainly lucky.

Young Jan Rohrer of Switzerland paddled fast and took his chances to take the 8 ball win with Nikki Whitehead in 2nd and Owain John 3rd.

The teams beach ball race then followed, with 25 teams of 3 trying to get a beach ball from the top of the river to the bottom before any other team. Again, easier said than done. Certain types of sabotage are allowed and balls and kayakers go everywhere! Mass start, 75 paddlers are let loose down river, into an eddie containing all 25 beach balls. Hopefully you decorated your beach ball uniquely so you can find it amongst the rest and then make your way downstream, throwing, passing and shunting the ball within your team.

By far the slowest race of the day but the teams balls race actually brings about the most carnage as paddlers become more fixated on the welfare of their beach ball than the line they take down rapids and the chaos unfolding around them. Team “Stink Balls” with Carl Whitehead, Nikki Whitehead and Patrick Mckee brought their beach ball A game to snatch the win right on the finish line.

Not offically part of the event but ‘for some reason it happens on this day every year’, the last of the water activities is of course the inflatable float down the river. This year we saw inflatable unicorns, whales, 3 stack rafts, paddling pools, couches, manta rays and many more craft attempt to make it down the river, with varying degrees of success. The warm deep water and nature of the kaituna rapids thankfully allow for these sorts of antics to go down with minimal carnage.

A quick prize giving at Okere Falls Store for the days winners and notable mentions and then its time for a mass game of secret santa. An oversized santa sack full of the kayakers’ wrapped presents is emptied as people reach in and grab a present, and then have to last 2 rounds without their pressie being stolen before they’re home free with their gift from Santa.

It was another amazing day on the water with the great people and a great vibe. Sound like fun?? See you next year!

Thanks to Rapha Boudreault-Simard and Mike Roy of Flow Motion Aerials for capturing the day with some epic drone footage, and you can check out Flow Motion Aerials on facebook for the edit.


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