Kawerau District Council is presently working on the installation of a specialist whitewater timing system to be used during future whitewater sports held in Kawerau. This will provide top international quality timing results for future slalom and whitewater races to be held on the Tarawera River.
Kawerau District Council has received major funding from New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) to install a timing system modelled on other top international whitewater courses. The system is based on the Sydney Olympic course in Penrith and Kawerau will now be in a position to offer the best possible timing solutions for canoe slalom and competitive raft races.
Mike Knell, NZCT CEO, says the trust is delighted to be able to help fund the new timing equipment. “NZCT is one of the largest funders of amateur sport in New Zealand and we are proud of the contribution we make to local communities,” says Mr Knell. “We are mindful of returning funds raised in an area, back to the same area, so we are pleased we’ve been able to work collaboratively with Kawerau District Council to achieve this great result for the local community.”
Kawerau District Councils Event Coordinator, Lee Barton, has been managing the project which is almost at the stage to be tested on the Tarawera River. Mr Barton said “The project has been a fascinating new learning experience. When I first began researching the timing requirements I had no idea where it would take me. Along the way I have had some major assistance and advice from Geoff Jones in Australia who set up their (Sydney’s) Olympic course and his input has been priceless.
We have purchased the timing hardware from the Split Second Timing Ltd. (Australia), and Ian Pidgeon (Company owner) is the sole distributor in this part of the world for ALGE-TIMING equipment. Ian has been involved with numerous Olympic sports and has been another source of fine expert advice during this project.”
The specialist ALGE-TIMING equipment has been shipped from Austria and is now in Kawerau with tests beginning during the first week of July. Geoff Jones, Technical Advisor from the Penrith whitewater course will be in New Zealand assisting with the project in early July.
Once all tests have been completed and all the potential challenges addressed it is planned that some small races will be organised to fully test the system and begin to train the various users involved in managing the system. When fully completed the level of accuracy and instant display of results live and across the internet will be a far cry from the present methods used.
The new timing system will have the competitor break a laser beam on the start line; this will send a signal to the master computer & finish line whilst judges along the course record gate penalties with hand held wireless devices. By the time the paddler breaks the finish line beam all the judges’ penalties along with the flat run time are collated instantly to provide a final time for the paddler. This time will be displayed on a score board on site and on the internet. Presently the competitors don’t know their run time until all the competitors runs are completed, this new system will change all that and will be in line with other top international slalom courses.
Andy Fuller (NZ Canoe Slalom coach and former National Champion) commented on the new system in Kawerau. “It is fantastic that we will have such a sophisticated system on the Tarawera River. Until now there have always been issues with how reliable and accurate our old system of timing really was and then the time frame it takes to process results. This will bring us right up to the best international system and the paddlers will love it.”
The first major race where this system will be available for use will be the World Rafting Champs Pre- Worlds (22 October 2012) followed by a series of Canoe Slalom summer races.