Vaka Eiva competition 500m sprints - Day 3

By Rahia Timutimu

Long distance racing took a back seat as the 500m sprints took precedence on the water.  The races were open to adult teams and was a good indicator for NZ teams to measure themselves at an international level.

Most teams competing at the Vaka Eiva have their sights set on the World Championships next year in Australia.

More than 250 paddlers gathered at Muri Beach today to take part in the 500m races which is the shortest distance race of the competition.

Inez Tulepu (Te Tuamoana) says, “Were feeling pumped, yeah, were really excited to finally get to do sprints, this was the one day we were really looking forward to cause we kind of figured that sprints is sort of our NZ thing.”

Teams from the Opens, Masters and the Senior Master had to battle strong winds and complete a turn at the 250m point during the 500m race.

Nathan Tuuta (Taranaki) says, “Yeah pretty nervous, it’s not our forte turns, but we had a few good turns yesterday so hopefully it pans out today as well.”

The Open Women's paddlers were the first to race today. Te Tuamoana were out to represent Porirua and New Zealand.  The strong winds made the 250m turn difficult for most of the women's teams, however Te Tuamoana managed to complete the turn to win the first heat of the day.

From the Open Women's to the Open Men's section, Ruamatā is one of New Zealand's top men's teams in sprints.  They plan to use this competition as a guide to see how they'll compare at next year's worlds.

Wiri Hohepa says, “It's awesome.  Even though we're the only Open Men's team from NZ, it's great to see so many women's teams from home like Porirua, Auckland and the South Island.  It's like a great big family here in Rarotonga.”

Ruamatā started strong and battled head-to-head with Ngakau Toa to the 250m mark.

However it was their turn that put them ahead of everyone beating their opponents by a waka length in the first Open Men's heat.

“That was an excellent race.  It was a short one, but it was hard as the level of the competitors was high.  The wind pushed us back as we were going out, but it was behind us coming back.  Props to our steerer, our turn was perfect,” added Hohepa.