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New Zealand Waka Ama take on the Va’a world once again

This July, the 18th edition of the International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Sprints will see French Polynesia host the spectacular Va’a event for the 3rd time. Over the course of 11 days, 2,100 paddlers from 34 countries will battle it out on the water. The IVF Va’a World Sprint Championships is the pinnacle Va’a sprint competition and brings together two events: Elite World Championships and Club World Championships – with a strong New Zealand presence in both competitions.

The New Zealand contingent, the largest of the competition at 560 paddlers, are in a solid position to succeed on the world stage and bring back the gold.

The event will formally open on July 15th (local time - July 16th in NZ) in true Tahitian style; full of dance, music and a showcase of the beautiful Island and her people. The event is officially hosted by the city of Pirae on the main Island of Tahiti. With the formalities out of the way, there is no time to waste with teams familiarising themselves with the Taaone Bay race course over the first 3 days.

The first of the official race events will see the best of the best from each country take part in the elite competition, with each country permitted 1 team per category (junior men, junior women, open men and open women) over 2 days of fantastic racing. The New Zealand paddlers will be fighting to retain their titles from the 2016 event which saw them taking home over half of the gold medals on offer in the elite events. Included in the Elite competition are the Para Va’a teams and paddlers, who are looking to be officially classified under the International Canoe Federation (ICF) classifications, with strong potential to secure further medals for New Zealand.

Without taking a breath, the club racing will take place over the remaining 6 days with paddlers from throughout New Zealand representing 33 clubs from Kerikeri to Queenstown to bring home the club medals on offer.

For the duration of the racing, V1 or individual paddlers, will have the opportunity to be named World Champions in their given age groups. As per the club divisions, medals will be earned from the Junior 16 to the Master 70 divisions. New Zealand have a strong number of medal opportunities in the V1 events with our top New Zealand paddlers such as sisters Akayshia Williams (Open Women) and Rangi-Riana Williams (J16 Women), Tupuria King (Open Men), Tui McCaull (Master 40 Women), Grant Donaldson (Master 40 Men), Taane Heta (J16 Men) and up and coming Junior 19 paddlers Inamaru Tere and Darius Apanui-Nepe.

Not only will the action on the water be exhilarating but the atmosphere at the event is sure to impress with the hospitable nature of the Tahitian hosts.

Waka Ama New Zealand Chief Executive Lara Collins says “the level of racing is like no other Va’a event in the World, not only are the best of the best from each county racing but the club event encompasses all age groups which reflects the inclusive and whānau nature of our sport”

“All of the gruelling winter training will come to fruition in Tahiti and I am very excited to see all paddlers – club, elite and para – showcase why Aotearoa is a force to be reckoned with in the Va’a world”.

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