East Coast Waka ama teams shine in finals

By Eru Paranihi
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The first of the Waka Ama finals kicked off today with medals as the objective for some. The Midget women and men contested out their respective finals. The J16 and Intermediate divisions also got underway.

First up it was the J16's Men's final. If there were nerves, then you certainly couldn't see it on their faces.

Racing in lane number one were the Blackout representing the Horouta club. With 10 metres to go, it was neck and neck between the Tai Rāwhiti powerhouses and the Uakaha crew from Ōtaki.

The Blackout crew were triumphant in their final.

Paddler Manaakiao Maxwell says, “It feels amazing. You know we've trained hard all this time just for this moment, and it feels pretty good.”

Meanwhile, in the W12 Women's Midgets final, Horouta Babies were out to win a shaky start in yesterday's heat.

It was the first time the girls have ever won a medal at Waka Ama Sprint Nationals, and what better than winning the gold.

Paddler Ariata Watene says, “I was just excited to be with my team, celebrating for our first place win."

Coach Hawaiki Lardelli says, "It feels awesome I'm so happy for these girls to get their first medal. So exciting, they're all happy. It wasn't a good start to day one, but day two obviously pulled it off, it was just fantastic."

Tomorrow the semi-finals and finals for the Intermediate and J16 divisions will take place.