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National sea kayaking forum coming to town

Every year, Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers ‘KASK’ choose a special spot in the country to hold their national forum — this year they’ve chosen the waters around Whaingaroa/Raglan and for three days in March the waters will team with kayaking activity.

Organiser Evan Pugh from Putaruru is a member of the Bay Association of Sea Kayakers and one of three who has organised this year’s gathering of up to 100 keen kayakers.
“Without giving too much away, our guest speaker on Saturday night is Sean Smith (aka ‘The Fat Paddler’). Sean’s a man who has had an interesting journey”, explains Evan.

The national forum is designed to cater to the interests of a wide cross-section of sea kayakers. It will be based at Raglan’s Kopua Holiday Park, ideal because it’s next to the water. Sea kayaking as a leisure activity and the sport has grown significantly in numbers in the last decade.

KASK has existed for 20 years, and as a not-for-profit organisation its key purpose is to encourage and support people to give the sport a go — once hooked, as Evan explains, there’s a whole world of adventure out there to be had. The association also represents the interests of sea-kayakers at NZ Water Safety Council meetings.

Evan started the sport, through a friend, when he wasn’t so fit.

“To do 2 km tested me when I first started. Now, twelve years later I’ve been to places like Mayor Island, 30 km out to sea. A lot of people who get into the sport are already reasonably fit. The biggest age group in our 600 strong membership are the 50-70 year olds. Often they’ve been active in other ways, like tramping and their knees have given out but they pick up kayaking at this age with no former experience and do really well.”

Kayaking is a great exercise to strengthen the upper and core body and with a few paddles under their belt people tend to find their own level to enjoy the sport. Kayaks range in price from between $2,000 to top of the line at $4,000 or so.

The kayakers worst enemy, Evan says, is the wind.

“Modern kayaks are among the most sea-worthy of craft. They’re designed to roll with the waves, but the wind can play havoc especially if conditions change. That’s why we don’t recommend kayakers go too far out until they’re very competent.”

Registrations have been a little slower than expected and when the Chronicle caught up with Evan there were still spaces available.

When registering, kayakers are asked to state their skill level, with four grades, from novice through to advanced catered for. An advanced kayaker is able to roll a kayak in rough conditions and would have completed several challenging sea trips.

The forum runs from Friday March 8 to Sunday March 10 and all skill levels will be catered for. On Friday evening a flare demonstration is scheduled and on Saturday and Sunday local paddles and training sessions, coupled with presentations, will mean there’s plenty to do.

Local kayakers are welcome to register, spaces permitting, by contacting Evan Pugh on Ph 07 883 6898, emailing: The registration form is also available at on the events page.

Sue Russell

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