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Horouta on top

Day 3 of the waka ama sprint nationals.

Horouta Waka Hoe are on track for a 10th overall top club honour after Day 3 of the waka ama sprint nationals on Lake Karapiro.

First place finishes to Horouta crew Puhi Kai Ariki in the junior 16 women's 500 metres and J16 W6 1000m finals have helped put the club in a commanding lead on the points table.

Horouta's Tama Kiterangi were second in the J16 men's W12 500, just 0.48 of a second behind a Cook Islands combination.

Heading into today, Horouta were on 81 points, with Te Toki Voyaging Trust second on 57.

YMP, on 44 points, were in fifth position out of 30 clubs, with fellow Gisborne club Mareikura nipping at their heels in sixth on 39.

The J16 women's W6 1000 final was a great race for Gisborne. Horouta were first, YMP's Puke Tapu were 5½ seconds back in second and Mareikura's Hinehakirirangi were eighth.

Mareikura and YMP had a string of good results but were unable to find the winning formula.

Third-place finishes were a theme of the day for YMP, with Rukupo taking bronze in the intermediate boys' W6 500 and W6 500 (with turn), Manu-Po third in the intermediate boys' W12 500 and Ohako also third in the intermediate girls' W6 500 (with turn) final.

Mareikura's Hiro also earned bronze in the J16 men's W6 1000 final.

Over 4000 people packed the banks of Lake Karapiro to watch the action, with the first races with turns a highlight.

Crews sprint to a 250m flag buoy and perform a 180-degree U-turn, then sprint another 250m to the finish line, while in the 1000m sprints, teams must perform three controlled U-turns.

The turns are a challenge for all six paddlers, who each have a specific role.

The front two draw water to pull the front of the waka around the buoy, the middle acts as a pivot point, the rear two push water away from the gunnels to aid the turn and the steerer must decide which line to take so the waka doesn't over- or under-turn.

This single moment can see crews gain or lose over 15 seconds.

A well-executed turn can make a huge difference, even if the crew are slower to the buoy.

Today features the W1 races for intermediate through to golden master-aged paddlers. Gisborne clubs have a history of success in these high-energy and fast-paced races.

The champs finish on Saturday.

GOLDEN GIRLS: Members of Horouta Waka Hoe crew Puhi Kai Ariki celebrate after winning gold in the junior 16 women's W12 500 metres final at the waka ama sprint nationals on Lake Karapiro yesterday. The winning crew are Aariata Watene, Aoatea Gardner, Brooke Ruru, Brooklyn Edwards, Hinekotukurangi Newth, Kaiarahi Brooking-Haapu, Kya Thornicroft, Mereana Kake, Piper Glass-Donaldson, Te Atahuia Matahiki, Te Riringa Babbington-Parata and Teagan Ngataki. Picture by Garrick Cameron