Paddling on the Thames & at Eton

Active over 60, Waka Ama
w12 paddling at henely on thames

First full day in London

Wow, this morning we got to paddle on the Thames at Henley thanks to the generosity of the Outrigger canoe club there. We are using their brand new Matahina waka (which are the model we are using in the competition). For the first kilometer there was too a bit too much ‘eyes out of the waka’, just looking at the view and coming to believe that we are really here. Then we settled in and had a really good practice.

We saw another waka coming down the river and I was wondering who it could be as we had caught up with an Australian crew who were leaving as we arrived. ‘Nec Minit’ I hear someone yell out “Janma!!!!”. It was the Krakens masters mens’ 50 crew from Nelson. I didn’t get to catch up in person, but it was just so good to see them. There is a very strict protocol of which side of the river to keep to as you go down and return so we weren’t close enough to do more than yell out greetings.

Why Slough?

We went out to Gino’s Cafe for lunch. It’s a small local cafe just opposite the hotel. I think they wondered what on earth they had struck. I think we are very spoiled in New Zealand with so many varieties of milk and bread. We caused so much hilarity that the locals eating in there asked why on earth did we choose Slough. It is definitely not a tourist destination. Leon was out for an early morning walk and was offered drugs and we’ve seen ‘deals’ going down.

Paddling at Henely on Tames

We have been very lucky to have been able to paddle at Henely on Thames. The Paddle Sports club have very kindly made their waka available. They have a different sort of membership chanrge, a flat £60/year and £15 each time you paddle. The waka we have been practising in are all new Matahina.

Te Ara Pounamu paddling at Henley on Thames

It was just amazing paddling past the half timbered houses and all the canal boats. Sundays is a very busy day on the Thames!

We are paddling double hull with a Master Womens 60 crew from Hauraki. We were practising our starts and having a breather when I heard someone yelling out – It sounded like Jan but I thought it couldnt be me. It was Julie Marriot walking with her family on the banks of the Thames!!

w12 paddling at henely on thames
You never know who will see you….. thanks Julie Marriott.

It’s very very hot here. I’m Staying out of the sun as much as I can. There is no green grass and the trees look sad. Keeping hydrated and sun screened is a mish. I can’t believe the weather – such a difference from home where there is ice and snow on the hills and we have had soooo much rain.

The Venue

Lou, Francie and I went out to the venue at Dorney Lake before the hordes descended. It’s out in the open and quite different to anything we have paddled on before. The lake is man made. One man working 6 days a week for 7 years! Its 5 meters deep and 2 kilometer’s long. we are only using 500m of that. The lake is only 5 full lanes wide (10 single lanes) with no room either side so there is an ‘access’ lane down the back to take you to various parts of the course. It is separated from the main lake by a wide bank and there are entrances to to the 500m, 1000m and 2000m ends of the lake.

The venue…
Setting of from the pontoon on a voyage of discovery up the access lane

I am missing my Fai. The singles here are a bit rough on the inside and everyone agrees they pull to the right. The water feels ‘hard’. Someone broke a paddle yesterday drawing on the turns. They put green colouring into the water to stop the algal bloom and weed growth. It sure doesn’t feel like lake Wakatipu water.

I’m certainly not as fit for the singles as I was before covid but it’ll just be how it is. I am racing against mainly Canadians tomorrow.

Haka practice

We had haka practice with the elite men at Salt Hill Park. It was great. Tupu broke it down into manageable steps so we could learn it a bit at a time. Just hope I can get it by Saturday night for the cultural evening.

By the end we had quite an audience gathered of picnickers in the park come to watch what was happening. I don’t think it happens often in Sough.

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