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Te Wai Pounamu

Posted Oct 02 2007 12:00am
Milford sound
My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly – my friends
The show must go on!
- queen

We’ve all come to know Justine Curgenven through her popular DVD series, “This Is The Sea 1-3“, but we don’t want the DVDs to overshadow the truly amazing mark she has made in expedition sea kayaking as an individual. I was thinking about that when I came across some old photos of her from her 2002 trip to Iceland’s West Fjords. She looked like a kid! LOL!

Since then of course Justine has had some amazing adventures including;

- Paddling the coast of Kamchatka
- leading the first all female circumnavigation of Tasmania
- crossing the Bass Straight from Australia to Tasmania
- crossing the Maelstrom tidal race in Norway
- circumnavigating Queen Charlotte Island with Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme

So when Justine started talking about circumnavigating the South Island of New Zealand (“Te Wai Pounamu” in the indigenous tongue) it was pretty exciting. To this point no woman has made the attempt. (Of course on the other hand expedition sea kayaking is not a sport that should draw lines between men and women) She’ll be doing the trip with Barry Shaw of Wales. I actually met Barry this spring and I can’t imagine a more amiable and fun guy to do a trip like this with. They’ll be facing over 1,700 miles of some of the most beautiful, rugged and dangerous coastline in the world and I wish them all the best. The plan is to launch in early January.

Now we can’t mention Justine & Barry’s trip without also mentioning Freya Hoffmeister’s attempt this month and Barbro Lindman’s solo attempt in December. It reminds me of those early races to the poles. Obviously since no woman has successfully circumnavigated the south island before there is a “First” to be had. Thing is, I know most athletes have a bit of a competitive drive, and a race can be fun to watch. But in this case, I know Justine set her plan quite some time ago and as others showed interest and announced dates, she just stuck to her time line. Expedition kayaking is not really a competitive sport after all. So when it’s all said and done Let’s just hope everyone is successful and that everyone gets out of the expedition what they were looking for. We have to remember the paddling community is still a small community. No matter who’s the first or the fastest at the end of the day we have to gather in the pub, slap each other on the back and say, “Good on ya!” to everyone!

* photo of milford sounds from wikipedia. open license.

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