Teen bound for whitewater of Japan
A Mangaweka teen is taking on the world in whitewater rafting in Japan over two weeks in October.
Kelsey Eames, 18, is captain of the New Zealand under-19 women’s whitewater rafting team which is aiming to take back the world title it won in 2013 when the championships were held near Rotorua.
The worlds are held every two years and earlier this year the team led by Eames defended their New Zealand title at the nationals, held on the Buller River in Murchison.
That meant they were off to the worlds, where this year they’ll be competing against about 10 other countries - with Eames picking Russia and locals Japan as their likely toughest opposition.
Eames comes from a family that has the Rangitı¯kei River and rafting running through its veins so says it is not surprising that raft racing is her passion, following her father who has competed in master’s and open teams.
But she says it is a shame that the sport isn’t more widely recognised in New Zealand, making it a constant financial struggle to compete against the rest of the world.
The trip to Japan, for example was costing her about $4000, an ‘‘incredibly expensive’’ experience for which she can’t thank her supporters enough.
Eames was based at Okere Falls before going to Japan, which is another small river town north of Rotorua that surrounds the Kaituna River.
She referred to it as her ’’new playground’’.
Her position on the six-strong racing raft is at back right in the main steering position.
In Japan they’ll be racing on the Yoshino River, on Shikoku island.
The river is one of the three biggest in Japan, and is rated the best for whitewater rafting in the country.
The competition consists of four disciplines - sprint, head-tohead, slalom and downriver.
The points earned in each discipline are added to determine the overall winner and final positions.
Each country sends a women’s and a men’s team to compete in each division.
The divisions are divided into junior, youth, open and master.
‘‘This is a huge goal but my team is ready to take on Japan and the world, giving our time and dedication to the team and training hard over the last seven months,’’ Eames said.
The Buller River near Murchison hosted the whitewater rafting nationals earlier this year.