A record 13,000 spectators attended the 2018 National Waka Ama Sprint Champs held at Lake Karapiro last week, with 3300 paddlers competing for national titles across five age divisions.
The regatta, held each year at Karapiro, attracted 61 clubs and paddlers from across the country, aged 5 years old to nearly 80. Lara Collins, Chief Executive of Waka Ama New Zealand, said the championships showcased some of the greatest athleticism and sportsmanship she had seen in a long time. “The calibre of race entries seems to get better each year and we also saw a new generation of Waka Ama talent coming through with 2100 paddlers under the age of 19 taking part.”
Hamilton paddler Tupuria King set a national record as he retained his Open Mens’ W1 500m title for the 5th consecutive year, smashing a record held since 2010 with a time of 2.11.56. The Nga Hoe Horo Outrigger Canoe Club paddler also picked up a bronze medal in the Open Men 250m dash with a time of 1.04.80.
Gisbourne’s Akayshia Williams retained the premier women’s W1 500 metres title, winning by a fraction of a second. Williams’ younger sister Rangi-Riana also defended her title in the junior 16 women’s age group.
Manukau Outrigger Canoe Club open mens’ team Vaka Manu won gold in the open men’s 500m, defending their 6th consecutive W6 500m race.
This year’s recipient of the club points trophy for overall performances throughout the regatta was Horouta Waka Hoe Club of Gisborne, who have achieved this feat in seven out of eight years of the trophy’s existence, gaining 418 club points, with 2nd place getters Manukau on 154 and 3rd Ruamata on 145.
The winners of the Ace Cuthers Memorial Trophy awarded for Club Spirit went to Napier based club; Te Rau Oranga o Ngati Kahungungu.