Waka Ama is my passion

By Jan Blythe

Waka Ama is my passion. It is my happy place. Paddling feeds my body, mind and soul. In these strange and unusual times it has helped keep me sane, fit, excited and connected.

I am so proud to come from Nelson where I have a great supportive network of paddlers who are helping me to get ready to represent Aotearoa, New Zealand at the IVF World Sprint Championships 2022, London, in the Masters 70 women’s division V1 singles. 

I will also be competing the IVF World Club Sprint Championships, paddling for Aratika Water Sports Club in a Master 70 Womens W6 crew. Aratika’s home base is at Birkenhead, Auckland (near where I grew up, which has been a real bonus).

I was absolutely gutted when world sprints in Hilo, Hawaii was cancelled in 2020 as I had qualified for both singles and with my W6 master womens 70 crew. It took me a very long time to get over that. I wasn’t going to London, no way, no how, not when everything was so uncertain. I couldn’t do the disappointment again.

They say you should never say never! I finally realised that I had to take that leap, had to say “Yes” to get some sort of normality back in my life. It’s been such a fun ride, a lot of hard work, a lot of travelling and camaraderie & laughter. It’s made me appreciate what a lot of support I have around me.

I would really encourage you to think about sprinting if you are not already involved, it’s fun, it’s fast and as technical as you want it to be. I would love to see more local crews taking the plunge and giving it a go. It’s kind of mind blowing being among 4,000 paddlers at National Sprints aged from 5 years to 85 years. I really had no idea how many people were involved. And the 5 year olds are soooo cute!

Thank you all so much!

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I now know that it takes more than a village to help get a paddler ready for worlds. Thank you so much to all of you who have said kind and encouraging words and helped me to get where I am, and especially to those who encouraged me after my training camp in Queenstown where 4 out of six of my crew (plus our coach) all ended up with Covid.

There are so many people (probably too many to mention individually) I would like to thank for helping & supporting me on this journey. Zoe and Carmel who have been in for the long haul and paddled with me come rain or shine, encouraging me when the going gets tough. Linda Heath, tower buddy, V1 buddy and hair stylist; Rongomai, my Tahiti Buddy. Ngā Manu who gathered me up for their “on water” training sessions. Katchawhae ladies for putting up with a granny in the waka – I really enjoy those sessions:) Sean Timoney for your support, hugs and the filleting of fish. Huriana Lawrence, Tracey Kingi, Lynette Campbell, Joyce Thevenaz, Carol Hunter, Anisha Huntley, Katie Thurston, Tony Davies for your encouragement (and for the coffees). My coach, Corina Gage for her constant support, fantastic coaching and for picking up on the eye rolling; my wonderful crew, Frances Piacun (Wakatipu), Gaylene Sciascia & Barb Rudd (Hawaikinui) Liz Webster (Tauranga) and Lou Henderson (Aratika) who is the driving force behind the Aratika campaign; Members of Te Tai o Aorere, Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club & Whakatū Marae Waka Ama who all offer support and encouragement. Lara and Louise who make outrageous plans and got me speaking French again. My family who love and support me unconditionally and don’t seem to mind living with the quirkiness. Terence at MickiD’s gym for his patience and expertise, Jeannette for being there for me. Rob Smith for your support and my Kiaola paddles. Anita Thompson who made me really hungry for this and whose courage, determination and optimism is a true guiding light.

And there are so many more. If I haven’t named you, I’m putting it down to Covid brain:)

At least 18 paddlers from Te Tauihu going to World Sprints

I am not the only one from Nelson going to World Sprints in London. There are at least 16 paddlers from Nelson, and 2 from Motueka (that I know of) travelling to worlds, so Te Tauihu will be well represented.

Also going to worlds are: 

  • Krakenz – master 50 mens crew of 7 – paddling for Maitahi
  • Mars Dempster, Linda Heath, Tracey Marvin & Carol Hunter – paddling for Taranaki
  • Tracey Kingi and Glenn Hardinge  – paddling for Horouta
  • Greg Buck – paddling for Ratana Pa
  • Todd Jago – paddling for Te Waka Pounamu
  • Roni – paddling for Taranaki

I hope I haven’t missed anyone.

I know from my experience in Tahiti how important it was for me to have whānau around when competing that far away from home. I am really looking forward to experiencing that again in London. I hope we do you proud.

NZ Elite V1 entries from the South Island

This year we have at least 6 paddlers from the South Island who have qualified for the NZ Elite V1 championships at worlds. Seeing as we have the smallest region numbers wise of all the regions this is a great achievement. Lets see if we can get even more next time!

  • Francie Piacun – Masters Women 70
  • Jan Blythe – Masters Women 70
  • Lyle Prior – Masters Men 60
  • Ross Gilray – Masters Men 50
  • Murray Marquet – Masters Men 50
  • Justin Roberts – Masters Men 40

Its never too early or too late to start paddling waka ama

We always welcome new members to the Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
We have social and racing waka ama crews catering for a wide variety of ages and abilities.