Teen bound for white­wa­ter of Ja­pan

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALIS­TER BROWNE

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.

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