Paddlers at the ready
Three months of hard training will come down to minutes of frantic paddling this week.
Members of the J16 Toa Waka Ama Club crews have been working hard for the sprint nationals that started yesterday at Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge.
Since October, the teens have had an intensive training regime that ramped up this month to include three sessions on Porirua Harbour a day.
Attending schools in places like Otaki and Feilding, the bonding last week as they roomed together at Takapuwahia Marae has helped take their preparation to the next level.
‘‘When they’re coming from far and wide to train, it’s different to a lot of local clubs,’’ coach Andy Hanara said.
‘‘But those few days were great, working on technique, timing and blending. The weather wasn’t great, but we were out there [on the water]. They’re committed to what they’re doing.’’
Toa J16 crew member Nohorua te Hounuku Ropata said the training had been full on but he was loving it.
‘‘It’s great for your fitness and you become mentally stronger as well,’’ he said.
‘‘You work hard because you don’t want to let your team, or your parents and everyone who has helped you, down.’’
As a paddler in the middle of the six-man waka, he is one of the powerhouses of the crew.
Whatarangi Winiata, meanwhile, sets the pace as one of the front two paddlers.
‘‘Everyone has a role and we know what our job is,’’ he said.
‘‘We love going to Karapiro and the atmosphere there is great, but we’re focused on what we want to achieve.’’
The Toa boys have a goal of making their final at nationals.
Their longer-term aim is to win the J16 title in 2018, when they’re all 15, and then go for gold at sprint worlds in Tahiti that year.
While some 50 Toa paddlers, across several age groups, will make the trip to Karapiro, more than 140 will be there from Porirua Canoe Kayak Club.
Coach Turi Hodges said it had been a tough build up for them, with poor weather keeping crews off the harbour, but it gave them the opportunity to train differently.
‘‘We’ve done a lot of land-based fitness work, some sports psychology, and that’s been a learning experience for PCKC,’’ he said.
Hodges said his club was keen to keep pushing waka ama as an option as the sport of choice in Porirua.
‘‘What makes me happy is seeing parents proud of their kids and the hard work coming to fruition.
‘‘That’s worth more than medals.’’
Toa Waka Ama Club J16 paddlers, from left, Nohorua Te Hounuku Ropata, Whatarangi Winiata, coach Andy Hanara and Nathaniel Ngarue Cashell.