Nelson’s Tara Hope has paddled her way to a national championship.
Tara was the fastest female at last month’s New Zealand Stand Up Paddle Board Championships, competing against some of the best in the world.
Held at Orewa Beach in Auckland last month, the competition was split into a surf and long-distance race. Tara says the long distance is her fortay, and finished the 18km course second, only behind world champion Penelope Strickland.
“I was pretty pumped with that result,” she says.
Then it was onto the surf-line race which saw paddlers negotiate a 2km long course in the surf.
“Coming from Tahunanui where there isn’t a lot of surf, I’m not very proficient at it but thought I’d give it a go.”
The top 30 per cent of racers progressed to the finals.
“After first race, I was right on the cusp of that cut off then, in the second race, I ended up getting third, which just got me through.”
In the final, Tara says she decided to just have fun, which worked in her favour as she crossed the finish first in a little under 18 minutes, edging out the reigning world champion in the process.
“I’ve been on the podium, but to beat the world champion is pretty exciting.”
The competition was Tara’s fourth nationals but by far her best result.
The stand-up superstar has a 12-month training regime to keep her skills sharp.
“I train all year round so some mornings in the winter I’m out at the marina with my headlights on.”
Tara will paddle at least 10-12km, six days a week.
The new national champion only took the sport up five years ago.
“My husband and I moved here in 2011, and when we would drive along Rocks Rd and see all the people paddle boarding I thought it looked really cool and I wanted to give it a go.”
She says it’s always fun to get out on the water, even when she is trying not to be shark bait.
“I did see a couple of sharks once out on Tahuna Beach, I just kept thinking ‘stay on your board, do not fall off’.”
She says she tried not to think about it too much, “otherwise I might have freaked out and fallen in”.
Tara is now setting her sights on the World Stand Up Paddle Boarding Championships held in Brazil in November.
New Zealand will have two women representing the country at the championships.
“I’m hoping this result will get me a spot.”