9 paddlers left DHS on the 28th of September to travel to Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty for the NZ Secondary Schools and NZ open Nationals.They were Otis Battrick, Rocco Thow, Mitchell McNally, Ollie Goldsmith,Tom Goldsmith,Ethan Knights, Tisse Risteyn, Jasper Wearing and Harry Thow. After a delayed ferry and a long drive, the crew arrived at 3am and were up at 9am for their first training session on the Tarawera River. The weather gods decided the competition would be better if there was torrential rain for the next 3 days. This did not deter the DHS team and as a result, they bagged 13 medals. During a day off from competition the boys paddled the Rangataiki river. This was a great side trip with the boys having to lower boats down to the river via belay and then climbing down a bank to reach the river.
The NZ Open Nationals took place on the upper part of the Tarawera River, which proved to be a lot more challenging for the paddlers. However, the boys rose to the occasion and improved as the competition went on. It was amazing to see them battle the rapids and come out with some medals.
Rocco Thow was the top U14 paddler in the competition and won his division. Otis Battrick mastered the art of staying upright in a C1 boat and took 2nd place in his division. Tom Goldsmith excelled in both the K1 and extreme canoe slalom. Tom won in the final against 2 past Olympians and a current world cup paddler.
It was an amazing trip and it was wonderful to see the boys showing grit, determination, resilience and good sportsmanship throughout their stay in Kawerau.
A massive thank you to our manager Ian Knights. He managed the boys throughout the competitions. No one missed a race. The wonderful Victoria Wearing was a mega star at keeping the boys fed and accompanying me on the many, many, many trips to the supermarket. Thank you to all the parents for being so supportive of the trip - Kira Goldsmith