Watch out Hawaii, here come the legends of waka ama

The University of Auckland’s entry in the world’s largest outrigger canoe race expect a top three placing, if not first place, at this weekend’s waka ama competition in Hawaii, according to team captain Loukas Banks.

The University of Auckland waka ama team are competing in Hawaii this weekend

The University’s waka ama team has twice in the last three years won the annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Challenge.

Named in honour of the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, whose birthday was in September, the waka ama tournament attracts some 2500 paddlers from around the world for five days of outrigger canoe racing.

The signature 29km long-distance race, set for this Saturday, is an open-water, six-person mixed female and male paddle. It is the largest outrigger canoe race in the world in terms of crews and competitors.

Our team is going to command attention in Hawaii. We
are all very competitive and work hard for each other. 

Team captain Loukas Banks Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

This year’s University of Auckland waka ama team is made up of eight students from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Physiology and nursing student Loukas Banks says the crew has been training vigorously since winning the inter-faculty waka ama race earlier this year, the prize being an all-expenses paid trip to compete in Hawaii.

The team has been meeting before dawn five times a week at their base in Okahu Bay to paddle, run and strength-train, before moving on to the demands of studying health and medicine.

“When we first began training we were puffing and struggling after our first kilometre but now we’ll go for a 15km paddle comfortably. Our strength in our strokes has increased as has the cohesion of the team on the water,” Loukas says.

“Our team is going to command attention in Hawaii. We are all very competitive and work hard for each other. Our goal is to place in the top three but the ultimate intention is winning the race.”

Loukas adds their biggest challenge will be the heat rather than the distance.

“At home we’ve been getting up to six degree mornings but over there we are sporting 32 degrees and racing in the middle of the day.”

The crew of future doctors, nurses and health workers are made up of Loukas Banks, Jordan Te Aukura, Billie Harsnape, Grace Jarvis, Lauren Hartridge, Joe Scarrow, Leilani Ioelu and Liam Gilheany-Black.

The Queen Lili’uokalani Memorial race takes place in Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday August 31.

Media contact:

Danelle Clayton | Media Adviser
Mob: 027 537 2580