Great Southern River Race - new format for kayakers


 The Southland Triathlon and Multisport Club will introduce a new format of river racing for kayakers on the 29th March, 2020.  The event, called The Great Southern River Race, will take place on a 3km section of the Waiau River, near Monowai in Western Southland and is designed to test a combination of kayakers’ speed, fitness and rapid-running skills.

Event Manager and local kayak instructor Rikki Griffin says the format was designed to not only be lots of fun but also a chance for kayakers to improve their ability to choose the fastest lines through rapids.  “We usually race long races and only get one chance to run each rapid, without much feedback on whether or not we took the fastest line” he says.

“It’s a mish-mash of Multisport Kayaking, Sprint Kayaking and Down River Racing.  In this format, paddlers will run the same section three times each, so they’ll be able to try different lines and learn what works best.  It’s fun and it’s great for all of our skill development.”

The format involves two individual timed runs each, which will give each paddler a combined time for seeding in the Finals.  The Finals races will be mass-start in groups of 5 paddlers. 

“If any paddlers are still unsure of the best lines after two runs, no doubt they’ll find out for sure when they’re going head-to-head with similar speed paddlers in the finals” says Mr. Griffin.

The 3km section of the Waiau River contains five rapids of grade two level and short bursts of “flat-ish” water in between.  Mr. Griffin says that it’s a perfect section of river for this format of racing and a great chance for kayakers from outside of the region to try paddling a new river.

Racing will commence at 9.00am on Sunday morning.  The date was shuffled back by a day after a new Multisport event was announced to be held at Wanaka on the Saturday.  Mr Griffin says the intention was to introduce new racing opportunities for local kayakers and Multisporters, not to make people choose “this one or that one” so he says the decision was made to change to the Sunday so that people could do both while they were in the South.  “In fact, like many others I’m planning to do the race in Wanaka myself then head back down to the Waiau for Sunday morning and I think it will be a really good weekend”.

The Great Southern River Race was originally planned to take place on 30-November, 2019 but due to very high river levels and a busy event schedule the Event Managers had to postpone it to late Summer.

Registration for the Great Southern River Race can be done online through the Club’s website or by emailing Laura at 

Participants are required to hold a current Grade 2 Certificate and have at least 90 liters of buoyancy in their kayak.  Entry is only $40 each and there will be a continuous BBQ running with food for sale at the Event Hub, next to the put-in for the section.  Participants will be shuttled back to the start after each run so they can leave their car at the Event Hub.  Thanks to the support of Hiko, Rasdex and DayTwo there is $600 worth of kayaking equipment to be given away as prizes.