Pineula aim to become National champs once again

By Rahia Timutimu

Pineula haven't won the Open Mens 500m title in a few years now, but with a change of coach and paddlers the current third top sprinting team in the World want to claim back the sprinting title that Vaka Manu from Mankurau have held for 6 consecutive years at the National Waka Ama Sprints.

The side consists of a new coach, former Pineula Open Mens 2002 World champion Jeff Jeff Ah Kuoi, the team also features new paddlers.

“I’ve gone back to coaching as some of the guys have had time off,” admits Ah Kuoi, “there's a few good paddlers.”

The side aren't from the same region so they train on their own during the week and come together as a team on Saturday mornings.

 “During the week we train at home by ourselves,” says paddler Te Wakaiti Southon,”on Saturdays we come here to Takapuna to have team trainings.”

Vaka Manu from Manukau are the current National Champions and have won the 500m V6 title for 6 consecutive years now, but this year Pineula finished their year on a high. At the last IVF World Sprints in Tahiti, Pineula placed third at the worlds and were the fastest NZ team.

They also won their regional race, their first race as a team. As the team continues to train they're getting stronger and are working towards their goal of becoming National champions once again.

 “It was definitely a boost of confidence,” says Jeff, “we’re going against the best sprinting.”

To be known as the fastest team in the country is an honour, an honour that Pineula wants to win come the 19th of January.