Campbell twins have it all before them

High-achieving sisters to compete in long-distance national champs

High-achieving sisters to compete in long-distance national champs

AT EASE: Cory (left) and Kodi Campbell at home among the waka ama, with their gold medals from the world long-distance championships in Tahiti. Picture by Liam Clayton

TWINS Cory and Kodi Campbell are on the cusp of new beginnings. This weekend they contest the Waka Ama New Zealand long-distance nationals in Hawke’s Bay. As individuals they will compete in the Junior 19 women’s rudderless W1 10-kilometre race. They will also be members of “auntie” Kiwi Campbell’s Kaiarahi Toa W6 team for the open women’s 28km race. The transition from age-group to open events has already started.

This is their last year of eligibility for the J19 (under-19) ranks. They turned 19 in March — water babies born under the sign of Pisces, says their mother Minnie — but were 18 at the qualifying date.

They have been paddling since they were eight, first with Mareikura Canoe Club and then with Horouta Waka Hoe. Parents Richard and Minnie have been firm supporters, and for the past six years, Richard has been their coach. Kodi and Cory were in the New Zealand elite under-19 team who competed in the first long-distance world waka ama championships, in Tahiti in June.

Tahiti

They and four other paddlers won gold medals for New Zealand in the J19 V6 27 kilometres, covering the distance in two hours 18 minutes 21 seconds and beating the highly fancied Tahitian team by one minute 54 seconds. Australia were third, almost 13 minutes further back.

“We did three laps of a nine-kilometre course,” Kodi said. “The sea for the first lap was pretty flat, with minimal wind. When we got to the second lap the wind had picked up, and on the last lap the surf got bigger. The Tahitians were close behind us on the second lap but as we started the third, our caller, Marama Elkington, told us that now we had to go hard. We had been conserving our energy but once we got the call, we didn’t let up.

“We were really strong going into the head wind. We wanted a good lead when we came to ride some waves . . . the Tahitians do well in the surf. We caught a few waves ourselves. At times we thought we might flip, but we kept paddling and sat ‘stabilised’. We knew it was important not to overcompensate and all lean over towards the ama (outrigger), in case we forced it under and flipped the other way.”

Hawaiki Nui

Since the world distance champs, Cory and Kodi have kept up their training for the New Zealand version, in Hawke’s Bay this weekend. Then they have time to catch their breath — but only just — as they prepare to take part in the Hawaiki Nui ocean racing festival in French Polynesia, where they will combine with four other paddlers for a 27km race on November 2.

Training as a crew has been sporadic. The team members were finalised early last month and they had two training sessions, one in Rotorua and the other in Tauranga.

“We’ll probably get together in Napier this weekend,” Kodi said.

They are looking further out, too.

“Our training now is basically building to the world sprint championships next year,” Cory said.

They will be in the open ranks for the worlds, in Tahiti in July. But first they have to qualify at the national sprint champs at Lake Karapiro in January. If they are in Kiwi Campbell’s Kaiarahi Toa crew, they will be among the favourites.

The appeal of waka ama

Asked about the appeal of waka ama, Cory said she enjoyed the social side . . . getting to know people from other places. Kodi said she liked being able to go from sprints on flat water to paddling in big waves on the ocean. Both said they liked the competition.

Lately they have spent much of their time in Hawke’s Bay, where elder brother Tony, a recreational paddler, provides a family base. Their plans include tertiary education, perhaps at Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) — business studies for Cory, and probably something to do with sport or animals for Kodi.

“There’s heaps of time for all that,” Cory said.

Her sporting year was made a little more crowded by her inclusion in the Junior Black Sticks wider training squad, and Kodi also plays hockey at regional representative level.

They have support networks around the country. They can paddle in any water, and believe tertiary education can co-exist with waka ama.

“We’ve had a lot of support from our parents, our family, the people around us,” Kodi said.

The girls are not making hard and fast plans for the future yet. They have plenty going on and are happy to take their time about any big decisions.

After all, the world is their waka.

TWINS Cory and Kodi Campbell are on the cusp of new beginnings. This weekend they contest the Waka Ama New Zealand long-distance nationals in Hawke’s Bay. As individuals they will compete in the Junior 19 women’s rudderless W1 10-kilometre race. They will also be members of “auntie” Kiwi Campbell’s Kaiarahi Toa W6 team for the open women’s 28km race. The transition from age-group to open events has already started.

This is their last year of eligibility for the J19 (under-19) ranks. They turned 19 in March — water babies born under the sign of Pisces, says their mother Minnie — but were 18 at the qualifying date.

They have been paddling since they were eight, first with Mareikura Canoe Club and then with Horouta Waka Hoe. Parents Richard and Minnie have been firm supporters, and for the past six years, Richard has been their coach. Kodi and Cory were in the New Zealand elite under-19 team who competed in the first long-distance world waka ama championships, in Tahiti in June.

Tahiti

They and four other paddlers won gold medals for New Zealand in the J19 V6 27 kilometres, covering the distance in two hours 18 minutes 21 seconds and beating the highly fancied Tahitian team by one minute 54 seconds. Australia were third, almost 13 minutes further back.

“We did three laps of a nine-kilometre course,” Kodi said. “The sea for the first lap was pretty flat, with minimal wind. When we got to the second lap the wind had picked up, and on the last lap the surf got bigger. The Tahitians were close behind us on the second lap but as we started the third, our caller, Marama Elkington, told us that now we had to go hard. We had been conserving our energy but once we got the call, we didn’t let up.

“We were really strong going into the head wind. We wanted a good lead when we came to ride some waves . . . the Tahitians do well in the surf. We caught a few waves ourselves. At times we thought we might flip, but we kept paddling and sat ‘stabilised’. We knew it was important not to overcompensate and all lean over towards the ama (outrigger), in case we forced it under and flipped the other way.”

Hawaiki Nui

Since the world distance champs, Cory and Kodi have kept up their training for the New Zealand version, in Hawke’s Bay this weekend. Then they have time to catch their breath — but only just — as they prepare to take part in the Hawaiki Nui ocean racing festival in French Polynesia, where they will combine with four other paddlers for a 27km race on November 2.

Training as a crew has been sporadic. The team members were finalised early last month and they had two training sessions, one in Rotorua and the other in Tauranga.

“We’ll probably get together in Napier this weekend,” Kodi said.

They are looking further out, too.

“Our training now is basically building to the world sprint championships next year,” Cory said.

They will be in the open ranks for the worlds, in Tahiti in July. But first they have to qualify at the national sprint champs at Lake Karapiro in January. If they are in Kiwi Campbell’s Kaiarahi Toa crew, they will be among the favourites.

The appeal of waka ama

Asked about the appeal of waka ama, Cory said she enjoyed the social side . . . getting to know people from other places. Kodi said she liked being able to go from sprints on flat water to paddling in big waves on the ocean. Both said they liked the competition.

Lately they have spent much of their time in Hawke’s Bay, where elder brother Tony, a recreational paddler, provides a family base. Their plans include tertiary education, perhaps at Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) — business studies for Cory, and probably something to do with sport or animals for Kodi.

“There’s heaps of time for all that,” Cory said.

Her sporting year was made a little more crowded by her inclusion in the Junior Black Sticks wider training squad, and Kodi also plays hockey at regional representative level.

They have support networks around the country. They can paddle in any water, and believe tertiary education can co-exist with waka ama.

“We’ve had a lot of support from our parents, our family, the people around us,” Kodi said.

The girls are not making hard and fast plans for the future yet. They have plenty going on and are happy to take their time about any big decisions.

After all, the world is their waka.

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