Olympic Sailor primed for improved Kathmandu Coast to Coast


Photo - Kathmandu C2C

Covid-19 has meant the former Aucklander has been staying put in his new hometown of Wanaka – not that he’s complaining.


“It’s a fantastic place to live, you’ve got rivers, lakes, mountains and beautiful scenery everywhere and the people are just awesome.”


It’s no surprise then the former Olympian has been enjoying his latest challenge – training for the 2021 Coast to Coast. He’s no stranger to the event having competed in 2020– but true to his nature he’s looking to beat his previous best. 


“I was actually really stoked with how I did last year, finishing in the top 30 and 4th in my age group.


“I would really like to improve on that this year though.”


 “Exercise has always been a really big part of my life. I love it and hate it, but I need exercise to survive really.


“Living in a place like Wanaka there’s no excuses not to be able to get out and train.”


Of the three disciplines Pepper says he finds the running the toughest.


“Running is not my thing.”


However, living in Wanaka means Pepper has also been able to utilise the coaching expertise of Wanaka based Tim Brazier this year.


“Tim’s been great, that’s the other thing about living in Wanaka there’s a lot of like-minded people you get to associate with – Simone (Maier) and Dougal (Allan) and Brayden Curries down here (All previous Longest Day Champions). It’s awesome to have so many people here who have obviously excelled at this sport.”


Like a number of competitors this year, Pepper has had some of his build-up events cancelled but he’s not phased.


“It’s just one of those things really. It was a shame to miss out on Peak to Peak but there were really good reasons to cancel. I think as a competitor it’s actually good to see that organisers are putting people’s safety first over everything else.’


Now that the warmer weather is here Pepper said they are looking forward to “missioning” out for some training sessions around the place including taking in some kayaking on the Waimakariri River.


Pepper has dabbled in multi-sport for a number of years with Xterra and Red Bull Defiance but said the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the biggest he’s done in terms of distance as well as difficulty and that’s what appeals the most.


“It’s just the iconic one really, it’s known all over the world and it’s one of those things that’s been on the bucket list.


“It’s called the longest day for a reason.


“I love the journey. You can have a faster boat and faster bike but at the end of the day it’s just you and the race.”