Whilst it's the festive holiday for most of the country, waka ama teams from all around the country are preparing for the National Waka Ama competition in Karapiro in a week. One club that trains during the holidays in any type of weather is Horouta Waka Hoe from Gisborne. A club that has many National wins under its belt.
A spokesperson for Horouta Waka Hoe Florrie Brooking says, “It’s certainly one of the reasons I got my own children involved in it. It's a small town and there’s not a lot for our youth to do. So we try and give them an outlet of energy. If you come out here to watch our juniors they train two times a day. When your kids go home they're too tired to do anything else, so it keeps them busy and gives them something to be focused on. I guess there are strong friendships that are formed with the kids coming up the grades so there’s got to be a desire for the kids to come in on their holidays. There is something catchy about the sport and about the club that keeps them coming back year after year”.
But that's what makes Horouta Waka Ama club successful at the National Waka Ama Sprints held in Karapiro every year, as they prepare for the Nationals.
Vesna Radonich is a paddler from the club who has gone to win many national and world titles.
She says, “I guess its drive. They're all about developing the kids and giving them an opportunity to do well in a sport, teaching them discipline, teaching them what it takes to be successful."
The club will compete against more than 60 other clubs from around the country, and will feature in 69 races on their first day of racing alone, the highest amount from any other club. This means, Horouta will have more paddlers than everyone else at the competition
Brooking says, “As much as we strive to be successful in some of those higher grades we try really hard to put the development back into our club."
There's only one week of training for all paddlers, before the commencement of the competition on the 15th of this month.