The world's best waka ama teams will be putting in the hard yards in the first IVF Va'a Distance Championships in Tahiti. It's the world's first biannual long distance waka ama competition with V1 and V6 teams racing over 18km. Waka Ama New Zealand CEO Lara Collins is confident this year's New Zealand team have got the goods to take it out.
It's Polynesia's Olympics, waka ama. 33 countries in Tahiti all vying for gold.
Waka Ama New Zealand CEO, Lara Collins says, "New Zealand will be right up there. Tahiti will be tough to beat they've obviously got a home advantage but I know that the New Zealand Teams have been training hard. The Aussies have come with some good teams, Hawaiians are here"
There are six categories; Junior, Open and Master V1 and V6 teams from across the world will race over 18 and 27km.
Collins says, "We do long distance races in New Zealand so our long distance is about 25-30km and this race here is 27km for the 6-man so it's something that they're all used to doing."
The competition also sees the introduction of the first para-section.
Collins says, "It's the first time the Tahitians have had para teams compete and it's great for the Para Va'a team and after that race, yesterday our para team will be feeling confident going into the race on Tuesday."
The competition begins off the tail end of the prestigious Te Aito competition, of which many in team NZ are already competing; which Collins believes is a good build up to the Distance Championships.
Collins says, "I think it's been really good for them to climatize and get used to the heat and the competition, the canoes and the water and all of that and get their feet wet I guess."
Race day kicks off on June 28.