Still very much in their infancy, the Wairarapa Waka Ama Club team is already making a big impact on the national scene.
Formed only four months ago by former Wairarapa-Bush rugby rep Paddy Rimene and his wife, Kath, they recently attended the New Zealand Waka Ama championships at Lake Karapiro and produced some impressive results.
And it was Rimene who provided the highlight for the Wairarapa club. Competing against high quality opposition in the premier men's 500m sprint, including past champions and an Olympic C1 paddler, Rimene won his heat and semifinal comfortably and was second to Bradley Anderson in the final. Anderson placed third at the world championships last year.
Rimene also made the final of the 250m dash, finishing third.
The intermediate boys crew, who had to replace one of their paddlers only a week beforehand due to a late withdrawal, missed out on making the semifinals in two 500m sprint races and their 1000m turn race by just 1s, placing fifth in all their events.
The under-16 boys squad included three paddlers who had been with the team for only one week as well and they performed creditably in finishing eighth over the 500m course and fifth in their 1000m turn race, beating two crews which had boys twice their size and one which had finished fourth at the nationals last year.
The Wairarapa women's crew, which also had membership hassles in their lead-up to the Lake Karapiro event, struggled with the windy conditions but won plaudits for their determination.
One of the three Masters in their line-up, Barb Woolford, was also given the chance to race in the individual women's event after a late withdrawal. She produced a spirited effort despite stopping at the halfway mark thinking it was the finish line.