NZ teams end Va'a World Sprint Champs on a high

By Jessica Tyson

It's the last day of the IVF Va'a World Sprint Champs in Tahiti today and New Zealand teams have come away with three golds and two silvers for women, as well as two bronze for men in the 500m races.

Overall, Aotearoa has come out second place on the medal table with Tahiti claiming back their mana winning first place. 

Even though they haven't been able to keep the number one spot, the New Zealand teams and their supporters are proud of their performance at the championships. 

Puhi Kaiariki from Gisborne started the day on a high winning gold in the V6 500m Junior 16 Women with a time of 2:04.27.

The team says they felt really relieved and happy after the race, now that they can rest.

 “It’s all over that’s the main thing. No more 6am, 5.20am training,” they told Te Kāea reporter Rahia Timutimu.  

The Junior 16 men’s V6 500m team, Baby Heli’s from Horouta Waka Hoe, won bronze in their final with a time of 1:48.87.

Yesterday’s winning team Taitokerau won another gold today in the Master 60 women’s V6 500m final, taking their own team tally to three golds.

The team says they’re proud to represent Te Tai Tokerau and look forward to bringing home three golds to their region and iwi.

Te Au Rere from Uruhina also fought hard to get their first medal of the day winning silver in the Master 40 women’s V6 500m final.

In a race of eight teams in the Junior 19 women’s V6 500m final, five of the teams were from New Zealand and Hinetoa from Horouta Waka Ama won the race with a time of 2:00.14.

“Our team spirit has just really been lifted,” says one of the paddlers from Hinetoa. “Coming from our 1000 yesterday, and seeing how well they performed, we were kind of shaken and just put our best foot forward into this race. [We] just wanted to do ourselves proud and let them know that this fight wasn’t over and just push them to the end and really snatched it from them.”

Horouta Waka Hoe’s Kaiarahi Toa are the second best V6 Open Women’s 500m team in the world after winning silver in the final.

For the Open Men’s V6 500m final only two of the eight teams racing were from New Zealand, leaving the race dominated by six Tahitian teams. But in the end, New Zealand team Pineula Mulivai won third place.

The next IVF World Sprint Championships will be hosted by the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association at Hilo Bay, Hawaii in 2020.