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The Rock-itt : December 2011
In the Masters race, Blundell opened up an early lead and held a steady pace until Australian Mario Vesely surged to the front. Then Russian Alexey Terehov made a break and only Blundell could go with him. “I looked around and everyone was gone,” Blundell said. “I settled into a steady rhythm and would lead for 31⁄2km of each lap, and then the Russian would go ahead and lead for 500 m etres. On the 5 th and final lap I got away and had about 20 metres on him going into the last portage. I got extra space on him during the portage and extended the lead in the last kilometre to the finish.” Blundell won in 1h 41m 56s, with the Russian 2 nd in 1h 42m 23s, another Kiwi, Glen Muirhead 3 rd and Vesely 4th . Blundell found the open category of the world championships “a big step up” from the age division. The field of 38 included British world champion, Ben Brown, New Zealand compatriot, Ben Fuohy and a host of European contenders, including the traditionally strong Spanish contingent. Hank McGregor from South Africa led from the start and controlled the whole race, eventually winning in 2h 11m 16s. Blundell was 19th , racing against competitors nearly 20 years younger, in 2h 30m 8s. “I had a good start and was at the back of the leading group, but then theheatgottomeandIhadtoslow down,” Blundell said. “I don’t handle the heat and humidity very well, and it was 35°C and 85% humidity every day. It’s a fine line – if you’re going too fast you’re overheating, but if you’re not pushing you’re falling further and further behind.” He strongly promotes kayaking as a sport and form of recreation and his kayak shop at Narrabeen is a centre of kayaking activities throughout the year. The shop’s business is divided roughly equally between sales and hiring. Whereas many other kayak shops concentrate on sales of slow recreational kayaks, he sells lots of racing K1s (the class used in the Olympics) and racing skis. Those buying skis often start out on the calmer surface of Narrabeen Lakes and other enclosed waters, with the aim of venturing out into the ocean when their skills develop. Families and people in the 20-40 age group dominate custom ers for his hire fleet. Kayaks are the most popular, as they enable paddlers to explore around the lake, but many like pedal boats even though they are slow. Blundell calls them “floating bricks” and says they are “so stable you can’t fall out even if you try”. At $20 an hour for singles and $30 an hour for two-person kayaks, it’s a cheap way of enjoying the tranquillity of the lake. Narrabeen Lakes has the added benefit of being a safe location where, Blundell says, “you are always within 100 metres of being able to stand up”. Matt Blundell stands in front of his kayak shop overlooking Narr abeen Lakes Kayakers returning from a trip on Narrabeen Lakes approach t he ramp at Pro-Kayaks where yellow pedal boats for hire are lined up. The small boy in the front is having a great time feeding pieces of bread to fish.