Descent into the wild kayak race a starter

17:00, Apr 23 2014

The rescheduled Wild Descent kayak race gets under way from Albert Town this morning.

The four-day 261km adventure follows the Clutha River, from Wanaka to the sea at Molyneaux Bay south east of Balclutha, over four stages.

Originally scheduled for January, the event had to be postponed due to high river flows but conditions will be a lot better for competitors over the next four days, according to organiser Warren Bates.

"We've enjoyed a relatively dry period and the rivers and lakes which feed into the river are low. Everything looks good and teams are going to enjoy some consistent conditions," Bates said.

"The key factor is going to be the wind conditions. The river will flow along quite nicely but there's a big difference between a nice southerly and a big north-westerly. The wind conditions, certainly for the first couple of days, are going to be favourable - big north-westerly winds pushing them the right direction."

Kayakers head away from Albert Town from 11am today.


The Lake Roxburgh and Lake Dunstan sections are the most exposed on the course and will be challenging.

"If you've got a big tailwind you can go sailing down the waves, coming down quite quickly but if it's coming the other way it can be a war of attrition," Bates said.

Numbers have dropped away slightly due to the postponement.

Last year the fastest teams completed the course in a little over 16 hours, averaging about 18kmh.

"This year I don't think the river will be running as fast. I suspect they will be closer to 20 hours for the fastest guys, which is still an incredibly quick time to paddle 261km, it's phenomenal really," Bates said.

"I suspect, like last year, the big challenge will be the day three section where they go through Clydevale and the bony rapids around there. It's a fun, challenging day."

The Southland Times