Another crack at water bike crossing

Last updated 11:37 03/02/2014
Rick Matenga
PEDALLING ON: Rick Matenga with his paddle cycle pontoon craft.

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The man who was left by his support crew to bob in Cook Strait for four hours after a failed crossing on a water bike is having another go.

Wellington man Rick Matenga is gearing up for another shot at the crossing on a pontoon paddle cycle -- this time setting his sights on crossing there and back in one go.

''I'm looking at the next flat tide, any time soon -- next time there's good weather, no northerlies, no sudden southerlies. Yeah, I'm gearing up for another run.''

In November last year, Mr Matenga was rescued by the Picton coastguard, and criticised by emergency services at the time for making ''poor decisions''.

He had left Makara with two supporters, expecting the crossing to take about six hours. After 12 hours, they were still 5 kilometres from Tory Channel, and the support boat was running low on fuel.

The crew left Mr Matenga and motored into Tory Channel to get fuel.

But it appeared Mr Matenga did not know that was what they were doing.

"They went fishing - I could see them dropping a line, " he said. "I tried to get a better look, they were drifting off and I thought, geez, I wonder where they're off to."

When the crew returned, it could not find Mr Matenga.

The search for him involved the Sea Patroller, two Coastguard vessels, Tory Channel residents, the Westpac rescue helicopter and Cook Strait ferries.

Mr Matenga said he had always planned to have another shot, and had continued training since his last attempt.

But this time, he would be taking a more experienced crew.

''Different crew, different boat and instructions that they'll be no fishing -- they have to stay in front of me, even if it's 100m. But not disappearing forever.''

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- The Dominion Post


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