Thousands from across the country have gathered in Karāpiro for a week of some of the world's best waka ama at the Sprint Nationals. What organisers say continues to be a growing trend.
It’s one of the fastest growing water sports in New Zealand and this year’s number of paddlers reflected that with 2100 under 19 paddlers making up more than half of participants.
Waka Ama NZ Ceo, Lara Collins says, “1200 of those paddlers are under 13. The youngest paddler is five, oldest paddler turns 80 later this year so there’s something for everybody.”
Over 3300 paddlers will take to the water over the six-day event in a race for the top titles. Collins says it is one of the few sports in the country where youngsters, parents and grandparents can compete in the same event.
“What’s really special about the sport is the feeling and the whānau aspect of it. We are one big family and everybody really enjoys the culture of the sport and that’s what really makes it special,” says Collins.
Midgets division kicked off today with the finale races to be held tomorrow morning. But it won’t be easy sailing for paddlers with weather forecast predicting wet and windy conditions for the rest of the week.