By Te Karere

An unbeaten Waka Crew from South Auckland is preparing for the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals with the goal of qualifying for the Worlds in Tahiti.

Vaka Manu has been training for 15 weeks for the upcoming Sprint Nationals with the J16 crew training six days a week.

Coach Kimi Taliuli says, “Some of the boys are here seven days a week. Some of us are here six days a week”

Paddler KC Ngataki adds, “The dedication that some of the boys have is over the top. Most professional sports it's two times a day, seven times a week.”

Subsequently, the crew have been seeing the fruits of the hard work; they have stayed ahead of the pack, unbeaten, for 2017.

Taliuli elaborates by saying, “They've been pretty good this year, last year 2017, they went undefeated in the long-distance competitions. They won the Takapuna Cup which was held in February and they also have won the long distance nationals held not long ago.”

He also says the goal to qualify for the World Long Distance Champs in Tahiti later this year, ‘Tahiti has always been the bigger picture. For me, as a coach, it's important that I always keep that in mind just so we don't overdo ourselves. Nats are just the building up towards that.”

Ngataki agrees, “That's the goal, representing Aotearoa. Putting Aotearoa's stamp on the world stage.”

The National Sprint Competition starts this coming Monday.