"Rest, and eat" - Champion Waka Ama paddler's plan after winning Long Distance title

By James Perry

The 13th Takapuna Beach Cup wrapped up today on the North Shore. Shannon Moon and Manutea Milon won the 24km Relay V1 rudderless race. 

Moon is looking forward to having a little break after steering himself across the Hauraki Gulf today. His plan involves rest, and "eating a lot of food, as much as possible. No more races for myself for the next 2-3 months," he says. 

For some of the paddlers, the races provide an opportunity to prepare for the World Long Distance champs in the coming months. For others, it finishes off a long summer of paddling.

This year event attracted 1100 paddlers from across the country, and from around the world. For the first time a team from Singapore, and another from Canada participated in what is becoming the biggest long distance Waka Ama event in the country, behind the National Championships.

Moon says, "it's always good to see. Always more up and coming challenges from national and international paddlers. It's always a blessing to put your skills to the test and see where you're are on the map."

In the relay, each paddler does two 6 kilometre laps of the Gulf, with a run up the beach after each lap before tagging their teammate and they then begin their 6km paddle. While the run maybe relatively short, it can sometimes be just as tough for the paddlers. With constant leaning over the side of the boat, the sciatic nerve can be blocked in, "and to run up that beach and you've got no feeling in your left leg, it's really tough,"Moon says, "and then you look real queer when you're trying to run, yeah so it is hard."

In other action today, J16 teams Raahui Pookeka, from Huntly finished with the quickest time in the 10km Iron Races, beating J19 and Open grade teams, over the distance. Having missed the J16 race earlier in the weekend due to not having completed their safety checks and having to compete against the older grade, their sub-1 hour time was a good return for the two crews who train on the Waikato River. Team member Whare Kauta Nikau says today was their first time paddling in open water. 

The young paddlers are now dreaming of a place at the World Long Distance champs this year. "We want to get to that level. That is the big dream!" Nikau says.

While Shannon Moon won't be at the long distance nationals in April, many other of the paddlers in action in Takapuna this weekend will be and will be ramping up their training.

For full results from this weekend's action, click here