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Waka Ama clubs get ready to lock paddles

Media release

7 January 2014

Waka Ama clubs get ready to lock paddles

A record number of paddlers have signed up to compete at the 25thActivePost National Waka Ama Sprint Championships, on Lake Karapiro next week.

1,461 crews from 54 clubs will paddle for the national sprint title on their Waka ama, or outrigger canoes.  More than 2,800 paddlers from throughout the country are expected to line up in various boat classes, competing in 10 age divisions at the event on 13-18 January.

Chief Executive of Waka Ama New Zealand Lara Collins said that this year’s instalment of the Sprint Nationals promised to be the biggest and most exciting yet.

“The number of crews signing up has been quite phenomenal, and we’re expecting a bumper crowd.  What’s great also is that we’re seeing more and more kids of all ages giving Waka Ama racing a go.

“That’s fantastic for our sport. “ The paddlers are all very competitive but everyone definitely has a lot of fun too.  And with more than 10,000 people expected to line the banks and cheer the crews, the atmosphere will certainly be electric,” she said.

In Waka Ama, paddlers work together as a team over distances including 500m, 1500m and Marathon races of 30 –75 km. The ama or outrigger on the left-hand side balances the Waka or Canoe, helping it to speed through the water with each stroke of the paddlers.  For the ActivePost National Waka Ama Sprint Championships, clubs will compete for national honours in one, six and 12 paddler teams over distances of 250, 500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres.  Spectators are also in for added excitement as teams competing in the six paddler 1,000 and 1,500 metre classes have to navigate their way through hairpin turns at the 250 metre mark. 

New Zealand Post Group Brand and Community Investment Manager Nicola Airey said New Zealand Post is thrilled to support a sport where anyone can have a go. 

“Through ActivePost we want all Kiwi’s to have a lifelong love of sports and recreation and a passion for living active healthy lifestyles.  It’s about grassroots participation and supporting Waka Ama is a perfect vehicle for doing this – it’s exciting and people of all ages love it,” she said.

Waka Ama racing has grown in popularity over 25 years to become the fastest growing sport in New Zealand.  Each year, more than 8,000 paddlers from 85 Clubs turn out to race Waka Ama in a show of strength, endurance, and team work.   Many thousands more attend to watch the racing as spectators.
Men’s and Women’s crews will be competing for national honours in the Junior U16, Junior U19, Open, Master and Senior Master age divisions. 

For paddlers competing in the W1 500 metre class, the regatta will also serve as a qualification for the World Sprint Championships held in Rio de Janiero in August this year.

The Clubs competing in this year’s championships are:


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