Racing at Dorney Lake

Active over 60, Waka Ama
Sprint waka ama racing at Dorney Lake

Dorney Lake, Eton

Dorney Lake is set within 400 acres of a nature conservation area. The main lake is a 2,200-metre rowing course. Beside the main lake is a return/warm-up channel with the officials tower on the bank between the two overlooking the start or finish line depending on the race. The lake water is fed from underground aquifers and weeds are discouraged by a particular breed of carp. Algae growth is discourage by using an underwater ultrasound system and green colouring in the water.

Access way to warm up lane
Access way to the start/return lane beside the racing lake
V1 men going to start line in access lane
V1 men going to start line in access lane

The heat is a killer

Its been so hot, 34 deg Celsius yesterday and predicted to get up to 37 over the weekend. I am so glad I bought sarongs – a multipurpose garment. Wet the keep you cool; laid over hay bails to sit on the keep the prickly hay out; draped over my head as I walk they keep the sun off. I would never travel without it. I still haven’t used my £1.50 umbrella but might today.

There is no green grass anywhere and the trees are starting to look sad. I would say that some are dying while we seem to be having more rain back home.

The competitors tent has a good view but is so hot that we have found a spot closer to the registration (and the few food carts). There are hay bales and a couple of gazebos that offer some shade. Behind is a treed area which is great but no view and you can’t hear the announcements which are so important when listening for race numbers.

Impressive medal tally for Aotearao, New Zealand

It’s interesting that we have more competitors here than at the Commonwealth Games. However, I bet we won’t make main stream TV at home.

If you want to check out the results you can see them at

The first 2 days of racing are over and we are now starting to get into the the club championships today. There are a few elite finals today. Our medal tally is impressive with Aotearoa cleaning up most of the golds in the Elite mens and womens and J19 categories. the Elite men missed out on gold in the 1500m turns because the steerer broke his hoe on a turn and had to rely on his crew to get them round that turn while he got his spare hoe out of the bottom of the waka.

Racing Singles

In the heat for my race I really struggled. The wind here is very erratic and constantly changing. After Covid and the Flu’ I knew I wasn’t at the level of fitness I needed to be for singles. The first race I was really nervous, the wind was all over the place and I thought I was ‘gonna die’ on the course. I just couldn’t get the breath I needed. The whole race felt like a struggle and I was really pleased to just get to the finish line.

The repercharge was completely different. I had a ball and really enjoyed my race. I must have cleared something out in that first race. I have to admit that, other than being really tired from all our water time since we got here, I am feeling the best I have felt in ages.

Some of our Aratika team mates were sitting on bank at the start line and calling us up when we weren’t lined up correctly. It was a great help as its quite hard to judge exactly where to sit. Being lined up just right is crucial for a good start.

Waka Ama is about whanaungatanga

What I love best about waka ama is the whanaungatanga – the close connections we make and the camaraderie on and off the course. We had so much support behind us yesterday it was phenomenal.

At the start line we had Aratika whānau helping us judge the distances to the start line so we didn’t start too far back. Then there was the cheering all the way down the course from all over, Aratika, Taranaki, and others. I love waka ama!

Te Ara Pounamu crew members after the repercharge
Te Ara Pounamu crew singles paddlers after the repercharge

Liz got into the singles final so we will all be cheering her on. We are so proud of her doing so well.

Today we are racing in the W12 with a masters womens 60 crew from Hauraki. And then into the W6 races from tomorrow.

Back to Henley on Thames

After racing yesterday we went (some of us reluctantly) back to Henley on Thames to work on on our turns strategy. Lou had been watching the elite men and had some ideas. We ended up changing our line up (Barb is now steering & Lou in seat 2) with seats 3 & 4 doing some work instead of sitting up like princesses. It worked a treat and we are all so very happy went went and worked it out. We are managing to power around the turn with 1 & 2 not having to draw nearly as much. We will see how that goes on the day.

Leave the first comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.