World Marathon Kayak Championships

Nov 2022Sport, Stories

Written by Luke Dooley.

I have recently returned from a trip to Portugal where I represented Australia in the world kayak marathon championships. I was selected for the Under 23 team because I won gold in my category during the nationals titles held on the Gold Coast back in May. I have been on the team twice before as a junior when we toured South Africa and Portugal in 2017 and 2018. I had to paddle 27km in my race and as usual the start was fierce. The wash waves from the other kayaks as they take off is very violent and it had my rudder out of the water on many occasions, causing my kayak to spear off in a sideways direction.

After the first kilometre or so I managed to find some clearer water and began to catch a few people. In kayak racing there is a principal called “forming a wash pack” which is where a group of usually four to six paddlers will group together to take turns leading and allowing others to rest slightly on their side wash. As I caught more and more people up we began to form a pack and work together which helped to increase my average speed but just as we were really starting to work together, the other four paddlers that I had caught pulled out of the race! This left me to paddle by myself for the majority of the race and although I caught another three or four paddlers throughout the rest of the race it remained very hard work. A Japanese paddler and I leapfrogged each other for most of the race until it came down to the final sprint to the line. With only 200 metres to go I decided to go for it and took off with a sprint as fast as I could muster. I dropped him pretty quickly although he slowly started to gain ground as we got nearer and nearer to the line. Thankfully I had enough of a gap and he hadn’t managed to close as we crossed the line about 4 seconds apart.

I finished 24th overall out of 33 starters and I was approximately 14 minutes behind the winner who was seasoned world stage paddler Hamish Lovemore from South Africa.

It was once again an amazing experience and I was very lucky to watch the other races throughout the weekend. The highlight was the open men’s double’s race which was won in a thrilling finish by a Portuguese pair racing at their home course. It seemed like the whole town turned up to watch and the atmosphere as they crossed the line was electric.

I’d like to thank my Dad and my grandparents who gave me a lot of help to make this trip possible. I wouldn’t have been able to compete without them.

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