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Tackling the rapids .. Sam McCulloch, of Alexandra, demonstrates the art of whitewater slalom while training at the Tekapo White Water Park. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

New Zealand’s top whitewater paddlers this weekend will take to the rapids of Tekapo’s whitewater course, which is now kitted out with electronic timing equipment.

The Canoe Slalom New Zealand Championships will be held at Tekapo White Water Park from Saturday to Monday, with training days today and tomorrow.

Tekapo White Water Trust chairman Alan Hoffman said the championships were able to be held at the South Canterbury venue as the trust had installed electronic timing equipment on the course.

The funding for this came from a $31,700 grant from the Mid and South Canterbury Community Trust in November last year.

Mr Hoffman previously told The Courier that as qualifying times came down to 1/100th of a second, the modern equipment was required to make sure times were properly recorded.

He was looking forward to the championships, which would be contested by young and old Kiwi paddlers, along with a contingent from Australia.

Mr Hoffman said top Kiwi canoe slalom competitors Luuka Jones and Mike Dawson would both be in attendance.

“All the top athletes will be there.”

School-age kayakers would be heading up to Tekapo from Central Otago after taking part in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Whitewater Games at Hawea earlier this week.

Mr Hoffman was looking forward to the first official trial of the timing equipment, which would hopefully prompt an increase in national and potentially international slalom events at the South Canterbury course.

The rapids on the course are created by overflow releases from Lake Tekapo down the Tekapo River and are controlled by Genesis Energy.

They occur up to 30 times a year.