Kayakers make themselves at home

The NZ Men’s Kayak squad at their training patch in Karapiro, from left, Taris Harker, Max Brown, Ben Duffy, head coach Fred Loyer, Kurtis Imrie, Karl McMurtrie and Ashton Reiser.

Cambridge is proving to be the perfect training ground for the NZ Men’s Kayak squad since the team moved here at the start of the year.

The squad of Max Brown, Taris Harker, Kurtis Imrie, Ben Duffy, Karl McMurtrie and Ashton Reiser moved here in January from their training base in Auckland, trading in the hustle and bustle of city life for a more serene environment in Cambridge.

From music teacher and biology student to electrical apprentice and boat mechanic, their interests and occupations are vast, but they all share the same love – kayaking, and with the support of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship they’re now able to pursue their dreams here in Cambridge. Formed over the past three years, the NZ men’s kayak squad is now training at the new Canoe Racing NZ high performance facility which opened at Lake Karapiro last year.

They say Cambridge’s small but convenient layout, the massive expanse of the lake, and the excellent support from High Performance Sport New Zealand has made all the difference in their training and quality of life.

“This has been the best training environment that we’ve had, in terms of water quality, people we’re training with, and also the community around us,” said Taris.

Kurtis said their move here had enabled them to focus more on their training goals, with a much easier commute between work and training, “and also the environment on the water, being next to high performance rowers, the cyclists, it’s pretty professional.”

The oldest of the kayakers, Max, 23, is teaching guitar, ukulele and piano through Cambridge East School, and loves living in such a ‘cool little town’ as Cambridge. “The whole community is really supportive,” he said. “Compared to where we were last year, there’s just a lot more support systems, and there are lots of other athletes around that we can look up to and see what cool things that they’re doing and knowing that it’s all achievable.”

The team plans to attend the Canoe Sprint World Cups I and II if they are able to qualify, and the subsequent world champs if they’re successful in their events. For now, they plan on executing a successful campaign at the next Under 23 World Champs and open world championships, and if all goes well they could get the chance to qualify for the Olympics at the world champs – their ultimate goal.

You can follow the squad’s journey through their Facebook page: NZ Men’s Kayak Team.

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