Citroen Extreme Race 2011 Mens Final Sequence

The Citroen Extreme can always guarantee two things; carnage and upsets. Saturday's 2011 boatercross kept true to this statement. A small but stacked field of males, and two very competitive females (Louise Jull and Martina Wegman) raced four at a time down the Citroen Rapids of the Kawarau River.

Adding to the bragging rights of winning the Citroen Extreme Race, this years event was doubling as the first ever New Zealand Extreme Race Championship. Held with the support of the NZ Freestyle Kayak Association (they do Extreme too). So with titles on the line for the fastest Kiwi, and the fastest overall the event attracted some of the 'bigger' names of New Zealand Kayaking.

Citroen Extreme Race 2011 Start Ramp, and entry to main rapid.

Sickline World Champion Sam Sutton, and the ever competitive Mike Dawson were lining up alongside Issac Levinson of the United States (Green Race short boat winner 2010), Jamie Sutton (Winner 2011 Wairoa Extreme Race), Ben Robson (Citroen Race 2010 runner-up), ex NZ slalom racer Bryden Nicholas, and the Okere Falls wild-child Ryan Lucas.

Sam Murray and Calum Brash competing in the 2011 Citroen Extreme Race

The river was flowing at 200 cubic metres of water per second, an increase of 60+ cubic metres on the 2010 event, and made for pushy and unpredictable roller-coaster ride for competitors as they made they way from the man made starting ramp down past the infamous Citroen rock before tackling the minefield of holes in the bottom section.

The initial seeding round was used by many competitors as their first practice run, avoiding the arduous task of portaging their kayaks up river an extra time. As fast lines become clearer, so did the not so quick. A three metro wide hydraulic on river right claimed the first swimmer of the day, as Wanaka's Glenn Murdoch took a quick trip through the rinse-cycle.

Competitors knocked out in the second round, were reseeded and competed through for the plate final. Mike Hoffman bounced back from initial disappointment in being knocked out to claim the 'Plate' from Bryden Nicholas. This race turned into a two horse race as PaddlerZone staff member Glen Clark lost his paddle on the start ramp.

A best of three series decided the all Central Otago junior field, with an exciting battle between Robert 'Foxy' Hervey and Finn Butcher being decided in the final race as Foxy claimed two out of three wins.

Martina Wegman of the Netherlands squared off against 2009 Citroen winner Louise Jull for the women's title, and after several lead changes Louise kept the title in Kiwi hands. In doing so Louise became the first person to have one two Citroen Extreme Race titles.

Serious faces could be found at the start ramp as the male competitors slowly made there way back to the top. In the semi-finals Mike Dawson was forced right early on by Jamie Sutton, and was unable to recover, eliminating Mike's chances of making the final.

Gordon Rayner competing in the 2011 Citroen Extreme race.

To most Kiwi paddlers the name Lukasz Polazyck would mean nothing, and for the three Kiwi's on the start ramp Lukasz was an unknown racer, but one who had cleaned up in each of his races throughout the day. Having been based in Central Otago coaching slalom for the summer Lukasz was also a strong favourite with the crowd.

Jamie and Sam were the fastest off the ramp and through the rapid, but the pack never separated by more then ten metros through the initial 100m, various lines through the bottom of the course had Jamie on target for the finish gate until he was cut off on the inside by brother Sam. This small delay left enough time for Willz and Lukasz to sneak past the Sutton's and in an almost photo finish Lukasz managed to pull through the gate first, quickly followed by Willz. As the Sutton's sat thinking what might have been, Lukasz and Willz enjoyed their moment in the intense Central Otago sun.

The event wound down into the evening on the banks of the river with the traditional prizegiving (featuring spots prizes from Sandiline (New Drysuit!), PaddlerZone, Artistic and Cumec Magazine.

Willz Martin with the NZFKA champions national title for the fastest Kiwi

Citroen Extreme Race Womens Winners
2007 - Rachel Moore (Christchurch)
2008 - Not held
2009 - Louise Jull (Otaki)
2010 - Nikki Whitehead (Te Puke)
2011 - Louise Jull (Okere Falls)

Citroen Extreme Race Mens Winners

2007 - Mike Dawson (Tauranga)
2008 - Not held
2009 - Jamie Sutton (Okere Falls)
2010 - Pete Simpson (Hawea)
2011 - Lukasz Polazyck (Poland), NZ Champion Willz Martin (Christchurch)