Kayak star hyped for Mount Monster

World champion kayaker Teneale Hatton competing at this month's Blue Lakes regatta in Rotorua.  Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
World champion kayaker Teneale Hatton competing at this month’s Blue Lakes regatta in Rotorua. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

Even world champions need a refresher sometimes, although Teneale Hatton’s method possibly isn’t in too many coaching manuals.

The Auckland kayaking star, who won the K1 1000m at the world titles in Moscow in August, will revisit her surf lifesaving upbringing in tomorrow’s Mount Monster endurance race in Mount Maunganui.

She’ll join a stacked field in the second edition of the 25km four-leg event, billed as the New Zealand version of the Coolangatta Gold, with nearly 250 surf athletes traversing the scenic coast.

“It’s going to be an awesome training session if nothing else and at the moment, we’e going through a heavy aerobic block with kayaking so a nice endurance race will fit into that perfectly,” 24-year-old Hatton explained. “That’s why I like to keep in surf – all racing is beneficial for me but I get a bit stale doing the same thing day-in, day-out, especially after doing it for a few years. It will be nice to have some different scenery than just going around the lake.”

Hatton has some serious surf lifesaving pedigree, having won New Zealand and Australian titles in both ski and board racing. She’ll link with a strong contingent from the Piha club in tomorrow’s event, with club coach and fellow 2012 Olympian Steve Ferguson having raced the inaugural Mount Monster last year. Hatton’s teammate Kirsty Wannan shapes as one of the favourites for the women’s title tomorrow, along with Mount Maunganui’s Katie Wilson, who was second last year.

The race starts and finishes on Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach and features a 5km beach run, a spectacular swim leg which includes a jump off Moturiki Island’s blowhole, a 12km ski leg and a 6km board paddle.

While the latter two legs appear tailor-made for Hatton, she’s admits the swim leg in particular may be interesting.

“The swim is definitely going to be the most challenging part for me because I haven’t swam for a year, but I’m really excited about. I want to push myself but the main focus is on having a good time. It’s going to be a challenge, firstly to complete it, but I want to push myself hard and see what I’m capable of.”

New Zealand ironman champion Cory Taylor will be back to defend the title he won in a sharp 2hrs 21mins 22secs last year, along with runner-up Max Beattie. The pair combined to help New Zealand defend their world championship title in France in September.

Their main challengers will come from a handful of eager young locals, including Papamoa’s Mason Bryant, Mount Maunganui’s Sam Shergold and Whanagamata’s Bjorn Battaerd.

For Hatton, however, it will be part of her 2015 kayaking preparations, with spots at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on the line.

Although the K1 1000m is not an Olympic discipline, Hatton has a range of options open to her, including challenging for the K1 500m spot or linking in a K2 or K4 crew.

“It’s a bit more of a strategic approach this year and I’m really trying to just focus on my performance and see how things go at nationals. It’s all about just trying to qualify as many seats as possible, so we have to wait and see how everyone is paddling at nationals and see what is going to produce the best results.”

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