The Aotearoa U19 women's waka ama crew 'Hinetoa' have been crowned world champions at the 2019 IVF Va'a World Distance Champs.
17-year-old Rangiriana Williams of Hinetoa says, “We took off pretty fast at the start and I thought, 'man', to myself I was thinking 'have we overdone it?' But we trained so long and I think that our bodies were definitely ready for the amount of [kilometres] we were doing.”
The long-distance race covers 24km of open waters at Mooloolaba, Australia.
“During the first lap we were pushing it very hard, and when we were coming to our second lap the conditions picked up and we thought we'd play it safe, and then coming through to our last turn, Tahiti was really pushing the boundaries, they weren't giving up but neither were we so we took off and we thought 'hey we've got nothing else to lose- this is it'," says Rangiriana Williams.
Coached by waka ama icon Kiwi Campbell from Horouta Waka Hoe, the crew were put through their paces in preparation.
Williams says, “She's just such an amazing figure to us, she's something that I think us as a team- we all aspire to be like. She's hungry, she's determined but ultimately she races smart and that's something she's definitely taught us- and also to work hard.”
The six member crew completed the race in 2 hours and 27 minutes without rest or substitutions.
“Most of us come from sprints and it's very different dynamics with long-distance so just learning and feeding off each other was an amazing experience and it's definitely stuff that I will take into my years to come of paddling," says Williams.
The crew now turn their attention to the 2020 IVF World Club Sprint Championships in Hawai'i.