The Intermediate and J16 paddlers were gunning for gold today on day three of the Waka Ama Sprints Nationals at Lake Karāpiro. Both girls and boys competed in the W6 500m, 1000m and the W12 500m.
There were 12 finals today in both the Intermediate and J16 sections. Te Kāea followed the fastest qualifiers of the J16 W6 500m men's final, the Fat Oysters from Ngā Kaihoe o Ngāti Rēhia Trust.
Gold never tasted so good for the Fat Oysters.
Fat Oysters paddler, Rua Mano Herewini says, "Over the moon, dreaming about it aye, nearly tears coming down my eyes aye, boys have been training hard this year."
Although they were the fastest qualifiers, it was a tight race against last year's winners, Push to the Max from Waitākere.
Herewini says, "They got us at that start. It's always that start but we'll work on that. Boys done good to come back, that's what happened in the semi yesterday but the boys pushed back good."
Perfect or not, their whānau and coach couldn't be more proud of their effort.
Coach Taniora Kai says, "I'm just so amazed with the strength they showed this morning. I'm so happy for the families, hapū and supporters."
Based in Kerikeri, team captain Rua Mano Herewini is the top U16 paddler in NZ. His team mates travelled from throughout Northland to train with him and prepare for this event.
Kai says, "He's the only boy from Te Tii area of Ngāti Rēhia, a few are from Whangarei and others from Ngāti Wai."
But as the team experienced today, no pain no gain.
All the team races are now complete for the children and U16s, tomorrow the day will be dedicated to the W1 races and it will also be the first glimpse at the adult and senior paddlers.