Gisborne’s Horouta Waka Hoe has entered unchartered waters – winning the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals Club Points trophy for the 10th straight year. The week-long 2024 sprint nationals at Lake Karāpiro wrapped up on Saturday having attracted nearly 3200 paddlers from more than 70 clubs who competed in almost 300 races, aided by 150 volunteers.
They are numbers Waka Ama New Zealand chief executive Lara Collins told The News on Monday marked a second strong year since the event returned post Covid.
Collins – who has been in the role since 2012 – was also delighted the 2024 corporate challenge had proven to be the biggest organisers have seen to date.
An Auckland-based team representing gym The Movement NZ won the corporate race, which attracted a 23-strong field.
“On-the water action all week was simply amazing, and the vibe on land incredible. The venue here at Karāpiro is, simply, world class,” Collins said.
Major award winners were recognised at a post-event prize giving on Saturday.
The Club Points trophy recognises a club‘s paddling excellence and achievement and points are accumulated from finals races. Horouta Waka Hoe, with 275.5 points, was a clear winner ahead of Kaitaia’s Nga Hoe Horo on 140.
Manurewa’s Te Pou Herenga was awarded the Ace Cuthers Memorial Club Spirit award.
“The magnitude of Horouta Waka Hoe’s achievement in winning the club points trophy so regularly shouldn’t be underestimated,” Collins said.
“And just because they have done it so regularly, it shouldn’t be assumed that doing so is easy. It’s not, and as far as I see it, there’s no other way to say it except it’s a phenomenal achievement.”
Collins said Waka Ama is New Zealand’s fastest growing water sport.
The Waka Ama National Sprint Championships were awarded $15,000 from Waipā District Council’s District Promotions Fund last June – it was the biggest grant from a $190,000 pool shared among more than 50 organisations.
The 2025 sprint nationals will return to Karāpiro next January.