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Whakaoriori paddle way to gold

Whakaoriori on their way to winning the Taitama W12 250m championship at the nationals last week. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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The Whakaoriori team is the toast of the Wairarapa Waka Ama Canoe Club after a stunning championship victory at the Waka Ama National Sprint Championships last week.

The team of five boys and six girls, aged from five to nine, prevailed in the closest of finishes to win the Taitama [midget boys] W12 250m championship.

Coach and steerer Paddy Harding-Rimene said the final was decided by a photo finish.

“We built a half canoe length lead over the fastest team from the semifinals, and they caught us on the finish line, but we managed to just hold on.”

The win was the club’s only medal of the six-day regatta at Lake Karapiro near Cambridge.

However, Harding-Rimene said the championships were very successful for the young club with several of the paddlers and crews setting their best times.

Tremaine Rimene-Albrett’s fifth placing in the Under 19 W1 250m was probably the most satisfying for Harding-Rimene.

“The winner of the race [Kacey Ngataki from Manukau] set a world record and Tremaine was right there fighting it out” he said.

“The more satisfying fact is that it showed that we’re on the right track to get on the podium at future championships.”

The premier men’s Ruamahanga W6 and Remutaka W12 crews made finals, as did the Under 19 men’s Haunui W6 crew, while Harding-Rimene and Joe Nuku, who set a personal best time, made individual finals.

Jordan Potangaroa, in the intermediate boys, and the J16 girls made their respective semifinals, while two of the club’s masters women, Kathleen Rimene and Tia Tuuta, helped out the inexperienced Ratana pa crew from Whanganui.

Harding-Rimene had special praise for the senior women’s crew Tararua.

“It was their first time at the nationals. The team only came together about six months ago and they turned in some really good performances in the W6 and W12 250m and 500m.”

Fifth and sixth placings for the premier men’s Remutaka and Ruamahanga crews were good enough to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii in August.

However, Harding-Rimene said the club will be focusing on an event closer to home.

“The worlds are very expensive, and we can take the whole club to the Vaka Eiva in Rarotonga [in November] for about the same cost” he said.

“There’s a mix of long distance and sprint races, so we’ll be building up for that.”

Next up on the national calendar are the long distance nationals in Picton in March, although Harding-Rimene said the hassles of getting canoes to the event may prevent the club from competing.

“They don’t have many canoes down there, so we have to take our own and the ferries are all booked out for that weekend.”

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