Setting goals and good honest training has paid off for Raglan waka ama crew at the 2017 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Long Distance Nationals in Napier last weekend.
Racing alongside 36 teams, Whāingaroa Whānau Hoe Waka team Nekeneke placed second in the Open Men’s 28km race, only the second time they have competed in the event having placed 14th in 2016.
Ranging in age from 18 to 40, the triumphant team consisted of Taiko Rangiawha, Si Nguyen, Dave Cameron, Sean Dillon, Murray Clear and Daniel Kereopa.
The other Whāingaroa Whanau Hoe Waka team Areare – Aaron Kereopa, Tare Kereopa, Hari Bassett, Wayne Trott, Wheturangi Tepania and Manu Le Gouais – also competing in the race came 13th.
Crew combinations change depending on who is the strongest contender on the day and team captain Dave Cameron is quick to point out that all of the paddlers were equally capable of taking the second placing.
“It’s hard to pick the top guys,” he says.
“I could have used a few different combinations.”
Training on the water in all conditions at least three days a week for the past 10 months and many more hours spent in the gym, Whāingaroa Whānau Hoe Waka upped their game from last year when they struggled even to get a team together.
“This year we have raced a lot of races and the last four or five we have been in the front,” Dave says.
Seen as the underdogs by many, Dave says their success was well received by the other teams, many with national representatives paddling in their waka.
“The ultimate goal was to get a medal but a top five placing would have been good as well.”
Having made their mark in the long distance race, the club now head into the regional sprints in Karapiro in December and national sprints in January, where the female paddlers in the club will also be competing.
Dave says they are in the perfect spot for waka ama training in Raglan and paddling in wind, rain and hail holds them in good stead for future winning performances.
Although mainly self-funded, the club is thankful to the support of Raglan Surf Emporium for team uniforms.
Great for cardio, stamina, strength and mental fitness, Whāingaroa Whānau Hoe Waka is keen to sign up new paddlers of any age with an interest in waka ama – contact Dave on 022 074 1215 or check out their Facebook page Team Nekeneke.