New Zealand stand up paddleboard champion Tara Hope at Tahunanui Beach. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Tara stands up to the competition


Nelson’s national paddleboard champion is preparing to test out international waters.

Having taken out the New Zealand championships in March, Tara Hope will compete against the best paddlers in the world at the ISA World Stand Up Paddleboard championships in China’s Hainan Island next month.

Having only taken up the sport a few years ago, Tara says she was shocked about her selection.

“I thought it was a bit of a long shot, but I am so stoked.”

She will race in the distance and surf events with the possibility of competing in the relay and sprints.

“It could be a long week.”

The New Zealand team of ten will depart for China on November 20 with the competition kicking off on the 24th.

She says it will be a highlight of her short career.

“I am still in the planning phase, but once I get on the plane I’ll get pretty excited.”

Tara’s current workout regime sees her spend hours grinding away in preparation for her international debut.

“I have been paddling 70 plus kilometres each week and going to the gym and on runs, it’s a lot of time on the water.”

The national champion also balances her rigid training schedule with a part-time job and her young family.

Tara works at Waimea College in the sports department and has two sons Cooper, 8, and Carter, 6.

“It’s not easy but I have a pretty supportive family, my husband helps out wherever he can, and my boys are pretty used to being on the beach by now.”

Tara says, while she will go to China with the goal of gold, she ultimately wants to go out, have fun and grow as an athlete from rubbing shoulders with the best in the business.

“I think winning will be a long shot, there are professionals who do this full time but seeing the level of the athletes and meeting the people I have been watching online and looking up to will be a pretty major thing.”

Tara has created a GiveaLittle page to help with her travel costs of around $5000 to get her 12 foot 6 paddleboard over.

“There is no financial support from the association or anything, which is difficult.”

To help get Tara to China, go to