Hawke's Bay's Jonty Laver reckons competing in Canoe Racing New Zealand's Kayak Krazy Winter Series is the perfect form of training for his surf lifesaving pursuits.
"It gives us something to keep our motivation up. We're not just training for nothing, it's fun to do and keeps us going," the 18-year-old Napier Boys' High School Year 13 student explained.
Laver collected his second win in the series when he won the open men's 12km surf ski and overall titles in Sunday's Clive 3 Rivers Paddle Event which attracted 67 starters. He crossed the finish line in 58m01s and was 25 metres ahead of his nearest rival.
"It was really close between us on two of the three laps but on the last lap I put my foot down," Laver said.
A member of the Waimarama Surf Life Saving Club for the past 10 years, Laver, has been competing on the surf ski at national level for the last four years.
"This winter it's all about going hard in training as I prepare for next year's surf life saving nationals to be held at the Midway Beach in Gisborne in March. I train on the Clive River three or four times each week and up to an hour each session," Laver said.
He won the Whanganui-hosted round in the series in May and on August 17 will compete in the final round of the series in Rotorua where double points are up for grabs. This event also doubles as the national 10km championships.
Laver plans to study environmental planning at Waikato University in Hamilton next year. He intends to stick with kayaking to keep his fitness up for surf life saving.
"I'll have to because there aren't too many beaches in Hamilton," Laver quipped.
Wellington-based K1 paddler Emma Kemp won the women's open 12km title and with a time of 1hr00m47.1s beat her nearest rival by three minutes. It was her fourth win from as many starts in the series.
"It was an awesome course and I'll be back again next year," Kemp said.
The 19-year-old bio medicine course student at Victoria University has been paddling for 2-1/2 years. She can put in up to 16 hours training each week in between her studies.
Like Laver, Kemp, will tackle the final event in the series in Rotorua next month.
Sunday's event paid homage to the successful 3 Rivers multisport event from the 1980s and 90s organised by former Hawke's Bay multisport identities Janet and Bill Turvey.
It was organised by Wellington-based former Hawke's Bay imports Chester Burt and Sharlene Winiata, who organised the Ngaruroro and Mohaka river kayak races in the 1990s.
"It was the biggest event in the series and will definitely be held again next year," Burt said.
Paddlers from the Hawke's Bay Kayak Racing Club, the Waimarama, Westshore and Ocean Beach surf life saving clubs as well as the Bay's waka ama clubs competed.
In addition to the 12km event for under-18, open, masters, ski, multisport, K1 and K2 paddlers a 6km race was staged for under-14 and under-16 paddlers and a 2km race for tyros.
Hawke's Bay's New Zealand representatives and multiple world champions Maika and Roni Nuku won the respective men's and women's 12km waka ama divisions with times of 1hr05m41.5s and 1hr09m20.3s respectively.
Taradale High School teacher Phil Dooney, who had several of his students competing in the under-16 age group, set the perfect example of what is required to be a winner when he took out the multisport 12km kayak title in 1hr00m29.6s.