Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Hawea Academy

Two years ago on one of my trips to New Zealand, local paddler Gordy Rayner planted the idea of us running a Keeners style kids camp at the Hawea waves. This year we made it happen. At the end of January 17 kids took part in a week long camp, 9 development kids (new paddlers with limited whitewater kayaking experience) and 8 Academy kids (experienced young kayakers with a white water roll and basic surfing skills), and had an amazing week of whitewater kayaking fun on the Hawea White Water Park near Wanaka on the South Island New Zealand. 
Inspiring the next generation. Multi World Champion Claire O'Hara watches on as 13 year old Lotty surfs and practices new moves

Contact Energy worked hard to organise the perfect water levels for us and myself, Dennis Newton and Anna Bruno took the lead in delivering a week long programme designed to enhance the kids freestyle knowledge and skill and love for paddling. Each morning started with a Yoga stretching sequence in the park followed by full day down at the river and then a review and goal setting session each evening.  Out on the water we taught all the tricks from loops and spins to Mc Nastys, Phoenixs and Airscrews. The kids just absorbing all the info and applying it straight into their skills. Improving minute by minute, day by day.

Yoga a great way to start the day

Den watches on a Justin hits his first Space Godzilla

Making goal sheets

As we ran the Academy program Max and Gordy Rayner led the Development team. Coaching nine super motivated kids aged 11 - 13 who had only recently started kayaking and had dreams to be freestyle kayakers. As the week went on these kids progression was huge. They went from wobbly and swimming to surfing and rolling in just a matter of days. Each morning we would take it in turns to go and run master classes and help them out. By the end of the week every kid had surfed and hit at least one roll. It was amazing to catch their excitement and energy as they became more and more hooked by the river and the sport.

Maddie showing of her new skills

Max and Jack tandem surf the top wave

Warming up and getting ready to roll

As the week finished the Academy and Development kids were surfing the waves together, running safety for each other and self coaching using the knowledge they had gained to help each other learn. This one of the biggest goals of the week. To help increase the freestyle standard in the area but also to help the kids grow in confidence and be able to interact and communicate and work well with each other and to understand how to safely enjoy the river.

Ollie talks Fraiser through the lines

Theres something amazing about growing up by the river

Now its time to send them back to into the New Zealand boating community and let them share and spread their passion and new knowledge and skills. I'm looking forward to returning next year and seeing how they have all got on.

The 2015 Hawea Academy and Development Team

Heres some more of my favourite photos from the week.

Roles switch as the kids coach the Pros

Maddie learning to roll

Local ripper Aiden (11) surfs the main wave with Claire

No mater what the trick the feeling of success is the same

Party surf

Heres to making great ideas a reality