Nelson Surf Lifeguard Becomes First Kiwi to Cross Cook Strait on a Prone Paddleboard

Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Nelson surf lifeguard Brittany Spencer has become the first New Zealander to cross the Cook Strait on a prone paddleboard.

She set off at 7:30am from Waikawa in Marlborough with near perfect conditions and touched land at Ohau Point four hours and eight minutes later.

She said, “It was really emotional heading into the beach.  There were a few happy tears and a few pain tears.  Physically I’m feeling pretty tired, a little bit wrecked, but so stoked, so happy, so proud of what we managed to achieve today, and so proud of our team.”

Point to point the paddle was 22 kilometres and with strong tides, cold water, and just her arms propelling herself, her body did suffer.

“The hardest part was definitely the last quarter.  My body was cramping up quite a bit, particularly my back and triceps.  I was in the pain pit but it’s all part of it and I just worked through it the best I could, and we made it!

The Strait is also known for its great white shark sightings.  “Thankfully no shark sightings but I did get stung by jellyfish about an hour in!”

The crossing was all in support of the Nelson Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) - raising awareness and funds through a Givealittle page.

“The money that we raise doing this will be so valuable.  We’re a volunteer organisation with minimal funding and we really need a club house, we need a home, we need somewhere that’s fit for purpose so that we can continue to do what we do - saving lives.  Whether that’s patrolling or with our Search and Rescue squad.”

While she does have her sights set on a few more challenging paddles in the future, right now she’s looking forward to getting home.

“I’m going to go and give my family a big, big hug and get really warm.  Oh, and have a shower!”