Tauranga paddlers have one goal for next week's Waka Ama World Distance Champs in Australia - to win gold.
Tauranga Moana Outrigger Canoe Club paddlers Gaylene MacFarlane, Moira Rauputu, Kat Berntsen, Liz Tane, Maria Collier and Bev Murray will paddle in the women's 60 age group for the 20-kilometre six-person event at Mooloolaba. They head off on their Waka Ama World Distance Champ campaign tomorrow to get ready for their race next week.
The competition begins on Monday with the Tauranga club's race scheduled for Thursday. Tauranga Moana Outrigger Canoe Club crew, made up of paddlers from Tauranga, Auckland, Gisborne and Wellington, earned their spot after winning the New Zealand title in Auckland in April.
"We are going there to win," Macfarlane says.
"We have had the forecast already, we know the location, the course is already laid out, it does depend on the weather which one we will be given.
"On Sunday we have a training session and will use the boats we are racing in, we will get the feel of the boat and the environment we will be racing in as well."
Macfarlane says the build up to the event has, at times, been difficult.
"The difficulty is the training, at distance over in the cold over winter. We are training after work in the dark.
"The team has been training in Tauranga since April which has allowed us to paddle ocean waters and benefit under the coaching of the NZ Waka Ama distance coach Corrina Cage."
Macfarlane says distance paddling is a change from the sprint racing done in the summer.
Rotorua waka ama paddlers up for long-haul gold
She started paddling in 2010, coming from a background in endurance sports.
"I was a kayaker, so part of the attraction is being on the water."
Waka ama New Zealand chief executive Lara Collins says the goal is for each New Zealand crew to medal.
"It is different to sprint obviously, distance it is a bit more tactical. There is a lot more training in terms of endurance and you also need to be mentally tougher," Collins says.
"Your mind can stray over the two hours of paddling. But you have five other paddlers you have to be in sync with. If you get it all to click together, it is an awesome feeling."
Collins says 94 paddlers will make up the New Zealand contingent with women's and men's crews competing in four age groups. A para crew will also compete in Mooloolaba.
Collins confirmed Bay of Plenty paddlers would be competing in crews outside of their region at the event.
Tauranga Moana members Paora Howe and Leslie Howard are competing for Whanganui and Auckland crews.
The event also includes individual events, competing over 16km. Racing starts on Monday, with the final day on Friday, August 16.
Waka Ama World Distance Champs: