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Countdown begins to extreme Police raft race

Countdown begins to extreme Police raft race

Expect double the enthusiasm at the annual New Zealand Police Association Raft Race in Rotorua on Friday (1 March) as competitors make up for the cancellation of last year's event caused by adverse weather.

Police staff from across the North Island will descend on the Kaituna River marking the 6th anniversary of the extreme sporting event. Its popularity continues to grow and this year has attracted 37 teams of four making it one of the largest police sporting events.

Even the chairman of the New Zealand Police Association, Greg O'Connor is taking the plunge for the first time this year.

As well as the regular whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking and riversurfing categories it will be the inauguration of the Banshee Bungee Boarding.

The races are being held on a 1.2 kilometre stretch of the Kaituna River which includes seven sets of Grade Three rapids with names like The Abyss and Boiling Pot. Competitors will also need to navigate three waterfalls – one of which is the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall just to reach the start line.

Event organiser, Constable Aaron Holloway from Bay of Plenty District Headquarters, describes the event as "socially competitive and a great team-spirited event".

"It began life as nine teams and has now become a highly contested event. We are lucky to have the Kaituna River on our doorstep in a spectacularly scenic part of the country. It is a perfect location."

Competitive contact between the rafts is encouraged but there is to be no "grabbing" of other rafts. Teams enter the Kaituna River at Okere Falls, and raft to the official start line below the Tutea Falls. One member from each team stands on a metre high rock, jumping into the river and swimming to the raft to officially start the race.

Six whitewater rafting heats will be followed by two semi finals and the finals are expected to take place between 5pm and 6pm; a new format for this year.

There will be five heats of riversurfing with first and second placed going into the final. Riversurfing is when you navigate down the Grade 3 section of river with the aid of flippers and a riversurfing board. This event provides a very different experience to rafting as you are in the water and at the mercy of the rapids.

The hyper.co.nz banshee bungee event will take place at lunchtime with competitors getting the chance to experience what it is like to travel across the water at 50km per hour. The bungee is 7m long but will be stretched out to 40 meters and then released pulling the competitor across the water on a board and points will be award for best tricks (and crashes).

For those who prefer to stay on terra firma there is a Department of Conservation walking track running adjacent to the Kaituna River which provides excellent vantage points for supporters and members of the public.

Every year the New Zealand Police Raft Race tries to support a fellow officer who may need financial support to cover medical costs. This year donations made by competitors will go to support an officer in Hamilton who needs to go to Germany for specialist treatment.

During the event there will be regular updates posted on the events Facebook (www.facebook.com/NZPARR) and Twitter account (www.twitter.com/NZPARR). Postings will include winners of the heats as well as photos and video from the event.
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