Today I completed my last training session in preparation for the World Masters Games slalom. No more hard work on the water now, just rest and maybe some stretching before racing starts the day after tomorrow. It’s tempting to do more; after all the sun is shining, the Wero course is fun, and there’s a great buzz at the venue. But as I keep telling the younger slalom paddlers I coach, you’ve got to be well rested for race day!









There are so many paddlers here from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Most are here to participate and reminisce about the good old days, while a few are here with a more serious air, ready to race hard.  I’m more in the latter group, but not exclusively. It’s been brilliant to catch up with old friends over the last 10 days I’ve been in New Zealand. Despite the years apart, conversations pick up as if it were only last week we were travelling around Europe together, training, racing, running rivers and living on a shoestring.  I’ve concluded that despite more grey hair and wrinkles, everyone’s basic character is pretty much unchanged. But we have all matured through life’s experiences – parenthood, starting businesses, developing careers, dealing with accidents or ill health, and now starting to talk about retirement – or at least a transition from full time work.  What we all seem to have in common is a passion for staying active and making the most of opportunities right now. No-one seems willing to wait for some future state to go boating, biking, climbing or whatever. I find it inspiring to be part of the paddling community with the hope that I can continue for a good few years yet.









I’ve loved being in New Zealand too. It’s 25 years since my last visit, and I’d forgotten just how beautiful it is and how friendly the people are. I particularly enjoyed paddling on the Kaituna River for a few days. Despite record high flows it was still possible to do some decent slalom sessions, plus a couple of laps on the river run for thrills and spills. Okere Falls has a lovely community feel, friendly and laid back. The local store provides a superb place to chill out between sessions. Just the spot to drink coffee and share good conversations.









I’ll post again after the races. There are two events, one on the Grade 2  channel (Wednesday) and then on the Grade 3/4  on Thursday.  My goal is to paddle my own best races and produce race runs I feel proud of. We’ll see how the results come after that.