Pair making a splash


Two veteran Queenstown paddlers are competing in this week’s 30th annual national waka ama sprint champs in the Waikato.

In a sport based on traditional outrigger canoes, Frances Piacun, 69, and her partner Leon Williams, 63, are racing with crews in the women’s and men’s golden masters divisions on Lake Karapiro, Cambridge.

Piacun, who founded the growing Wakatipu Waka Ama Club in 2014, is pacer for six- and 12-person crews from mostly the top of the North Island, in 1000-metre and 500m sprints.

Club captain/coach Williams is steering for six- and 12-men crews from Gisborne’s Horouta Waka Hoe Club in races over the same distances.

The pair, who’ve both won golds in worlds and nationals, also competed in last year’s world sprint champs in Tahiti.

Piacun, joined by crew from around New Zealand but competing under her club’s banner, finished eighth, while Williams’ fellow crew, from the top of the North Island and Tauranga, came fourth.

The Wakatipu Waka Ama Club, meanwhile, has agreed to share resources with the Kelvin Peninsula-based Wakatipu Yacht Club.

They’ll also support each other in fundraising and open days.