Waka were back on the water at Lake Ngatu on Saturday, and while some of the paddlers might have been a little rusty after their long spell in Covid-19 lockdown, every last one of them was delighted to be back in action according to organiser Chev Reti.

Whatever the weather, from blistering sun to thunder storms, they would have been there, she said. As it happened it was a cool, slightly breezy, overcast morning, and while some of those in an early race might have been making hard work of it they were getting plenty of encouragement from the beach.

Chev wasn't expecting too many record-breaking times, although many of the paddlers had been working hard at maintaining their fitness over lockdown, but whatever their condition they were happy just to be back on the water.

There was a bit more of that water too, recent rain having lifted the level of the lake significantly over the last couple of weeks. The high water mark was still well short of where it probably should be in winter, but given that there had not been a huge amount of rain it was looking good.

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"There's been a massive improvement," Chev said, Margaret Brown adding that two weeks earlier it had been too shallow for ruddered waka, but they were in action on Saturday, alongside the non-ruddered variety.

The regatta, hosted by Nga Hoe Horo, attracted crews from clubs including Taipā and as far afield as Mangawhai, with events for single paddlers and crews of up to six in age groups ranging from intermediate to golden masters (60 years-plus), over distances from 250 metres to 10 kilometres.

The day was the first in a winter series, and, as a small historical footnote, the first waka ama regatta anywhere in the country post-lockdown.