There’s never a good time to be injured, but amid COVID-19, right now may be as good as it gets for Teneale Hatton.

The 2015 World Champion is facing up to six weeks off the water after undergoing hand surgery.

It’s a serious injury, sidelining her for a serious amount of time – but just how the New Zealand paddler picked up the injury isn’t quite as athletic as you may expect.

“I got told the old trick was to use a glass to make perfectly-shaped circular cookies. I thought, ‘This is brilliant. Forget my Christmas cookie cutters,’” she laughs.

“Turns out I had a little more power behind it than I expected. My hand went through the glass, or vice versa, the glass went through my hand.”

“Honestly, I thought it was a brilliant idea.

“It was pretty interesting at the time. I was home by myself and grabbed a tea towel and just walked around not knowing what to do for a while.”

As funny as the events are, the result is anything but.

The glass cut her hand so deeply that it sliced through tendons and only missed her arteries by mere millimetres.

Exercise is off the agenda for at least a few weeks but getting back in the boat will take even longer, given the impact of holding a paddle.

In the meantime, there are more pressing challenges to overcome.

“I currently have a boxing glove on my right hand, and I’m working on figuring out how I can coordinate my left hand,” Hatton laughs.

She admits the timing is somewhat frustrating, given New Zealand has only just rolled back restrictions that allows paddlers to get back on the water.

But with no races on the horizon, she’s enjoying the refreshing effect of spending time away from the boat.

“It’s somewhat a blessing in disguise,” Hatton admits.

“I can’t really change what I have done. At this time, it’s kind of nice putting my focus and energy into other things like the Virtual National Champs.

“I’m spending my time trying to come up with some cool ideas for paddling development and that sort of thing.

“I’ve also realised how much I struggle to sit still. It’s driving me crazy, and it’s only been a few days.”

It’s a reality that’s easier to reconcile with after the COVID-19 shutdown.

Hatton was preparing to embark on another year spent racing abroad, beginning with the North American tour that encompasses the Canadian Ocean Racing Championships and the Gorge Downwind.

But those plans were soon thrown into chaos.

“It was really hard because there was so much uncertainty,” she says.

“Being down this end of the world, we rely so much on travel to get exposure to racing. Trying to stay motivated for what could potentially happen this year was interesting, really interesting.

“It was then [after cancellations] about focusing on the idea that it was a blessing in disguise to have a winter at home without disruptions, really taking the time to let the body recover and base a base build-up to the end of the year.

Shaw and Partners WA Race Week

It appears the end of the year will have some major races for Hatton, as well as every other New Zealand and Australian paddler too.

The governments of the two countries have mapped out a plan to open borders and allow travel between them, creating a trans-Tasman bubble.

There’s no timeframe for that to come into effect, but with both nations now recording very few new cases of COVID-19, it’s likely to be well in advance of the domestic surfski seasons kicking off.

That means The Doctor, 20 Beaches and Auckland’s King and Queen of the Harbour are all likely to go ahead unaffected.

“The last couple of weeks where we’ve been able to get back on the water, it’s been hugely motivating,” Hatton says.

“And more motivating because there doesn’t feel like there’s a rush.”

“We’ve got four or five months to set a great base rather than spend the whole year doing races and trying to peak at the end of the year.”

And by that time, her cookie-cutting fiasco will be long forgotten.