The 2021 New Zealand Virtual Paddling Championships stepped up a notch during its first full weekend of action as Kiwi Travis Mitchell briefly took over the overall lead in the surf ski division with a time of 56:36 – only to be dislodged a few hours later by Daniel Peacocke (56:24). Peacocke, a 31-year-old firefighter, is in good shape having claimed a top ten finish last month’s Bhutty Moore-Morial but he was nonetheless a little surprised his 12km paddle took him to the top of the overall standings. “I went out there just wanting to a decent time,” adds Daniel whose run took him from on an out and back from Takapuna to Milford. “I didn’t even know Travis’ time, so it was just a little bit of a fluke I managed to beat it. It was only later I found out Travis had posted his time a little earlier in the day, just up the coast at Mairangi Bay. “Mine was an okay time, although the conditions were pretty crap. The tide was a bit wrong and it was too windy.” Raised in Hamilton and Auckland, Daniel was introduced to paddling at the age of 19 when studying at university down in Dunedin. Initially featuring in the sport of surf lifesaving – where he raced in Spec Ski, he was introduced to surf ski paddling five years ago when living in Auckland and quickly took a liking to the new paddling activity. “For me, surf ski is more fun than paddling a K1 up and down a lake and in some ways is similar to going out for a bunch ride on your bike,” he adds. “It is a bit more exciting and the sport always seems like an adventure.
“It is also very sociable and very flexible around my work.” Paddling out of the Takapuna Boating Club twice a week is not always easy – given Daniel is now based more nearly 70km away in the town of Tuakau on the far northern tip of the Waikato. But his love for the sport is such ,he has continued to paddle and he believes the New Zealand Virtual Paddling Championships offers a great opportunity for any potential entrants to get involved. “It is a good self-evaluation and a bit of fun,” he explains. “You can post the times when it suits you with no real pressure. And the fact you can post multiple times is a great opportunity to improve.” The question is; does Daniel have any plans to compete again? “Hopefully, I will get out next weekend into some better conditions and break the 56-minute mark,” he says.
***Besides the efforts of Daniel and Travis to move to one-two in the surf ski standings. Australian Joey Lampe heads the men’s SLS Ski leaderboard with a handy mark of 57:54. Five women have now posted a time in the competition with Carly Tyler leading the way in the surf ski division with a mark of 1:00:16.