QUITE often people take up things out of sheer necessity. Let's take Ryan Welch , for example. He took up surf lifesaving from the time he was seven years old before taking up canoe polo as well as being a pupil at Havelock North High School.
But it was the training nights during the abbreviated winter months as a Waimarama Surf Lifesaving Club member that saw kayaking suddenly force its way into the equation. ``It got quite cold so kayaking was a way to train and keep our legs warm,' Welch, 19, told SportToday soon after competing in the Hawke's Bay Rowing Club-hosted New Year's Regatta at Clive River, near Napier, yesterday.
It was the first time kayakers competed in tandem with rowers during the latters' premier regatta of the year.
Attesting to Welch's account of how the 40-member Hawke's Bay Kayak Racing Club was born two years ago in the province, coach Pip Pearson said because their training times coincided, the rowers approached them to race as well in yesterday's regatta in a win-win situation.
``We've never had a regatta before so we thought it was a great way to lift our profile and also the event's by turning into a bigger one.' Of the 30 kayakers yesterday, four were from outside the Bay. Pearson sees the event as becoming a regular build-up to kayakers' nationals in Lake Pupuke, Auckland, after their annual Rotorua regatta in early December.
Bay rowing club coaching co-ordinator Dick Tripp chorused similar sentiments, saying he was also impressed with the K4 men's kayakers who raced against the rowing quads to finish in fourth place.
``There wasn't much difference in speed too and they (the kayakers) were using just their hands and not their legs like the rowers,' said a delighted Tripp, excited by Pearson's plans to lure other kayaking clubs to field teams in next year's regatta, after yesterday's one hummed in balmy, festive atmosphere and live commentary as fans relaxed under beach umbrellas and marquees along the bank.
Enjoying the crowd support, Welch finished runner-up to Shane Bennett in the K1 500m race with Jared Phelps third. He combined with the pair and Sean Collins, who introduced him to surf lifesaving, to win the K4 event.
However, he and Collins were second in the K2 behind Bennet and Phelps.
Having helped his father as a builder's labourer last year, Massey University-bound Welch thanked Peak Fitness gym for its sponsorship as he keeps his Olympics dreams alive.