Student Waka Ama Success: by Georgia Shivnan, Year 13 Student, Kaipara College

Jessica Cameron is a Year 13 student at Kaipara College who has been competing in waka ama since late 2018 – initially getting involved in the sport through the school’s team. Waka ama is a popular sport at Kaipara College, with many students finding both success and passion in the endeavour. Kaipara’s paddlers are all signed up to Tu Tangi Ora – Helensville’s local waka ama club – meaning that they are eligible to compete at both school and club competitions. The teams train regularly on the Kaipara River and frequently travel around and out of the region for inter school competitions.
After almost three and a half years of training and over 15 competitions, Jess has earned numerous impressive achievements – including her participation at a national level in the waka ama sprint and distance competitions.
At the beginning of April, Jess travelled to Lake Karapiro in Cambridge to compete in the Waka Ama World Sprints New Zealand Qualifying Event. Jess, who is only sixteen years old – and is, therefore, one of the youngest competitors in her division – placed sixth in the national W1 (single waka) 500-metre sprint for the female Under 19s category. Jess also recorded her personal best time for the event at this competition.
Jess’s national placing qualifies her for the International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Sprint Club Championships – held in London in mid-August 2022. These championships will take place at Dorney Lake – a purpose-built rowing facility. With eight lanes and a length of over two kilometres, it has hosted several prestigious rowing events – from the 2006 World Rowing Championships to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The IVF World Sprint Club Championship has 18 competition divisions for parathletes and competitors ranging from 14 to 80 years old. Over 1700 of the best paddlers from around the world will attend this competition. The championships will span over a week, with a blessing of the canoes and course familiarisation taking place before racing starts. The opening ceremony for the event will be held on August 9th, while racing will proceed over the following week until the closing ceremony on August 16th.
Jess will be competing in two events: the W1 J19 Women 500-metre sprint and the W6 (six paddlers) J19 500-metre sprint. In the latter event, Jess will compete with other paddlers from the Nga Horo Outrigger Canoe Club against other international clubs. Jess is currently dedicating 13 hours a week to training for the championships.

Jess paddling at Regionals

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