Ruby's, the 'wild card' crew, comes in second in the 500m sprint!!!

Ruby's competing on the world stage

Whakatū/Nelson master womens 70's crew going to world sprint championships

Ruby's is a Masters 70 womens crew from Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club, Whakatū, Nelson. We will be representing Whakatū and Aotearoa, New Zealand at the IVF Waka Ama World Sprint Championships, Hilo, Hawai'i in August 2024.

Our aim in training for, and competing in this event, is to share our story to inspire people and encourage them to reach for their dreams, no matter their age and what they perceive is possible. Our goal is to medal.

In the last two world sprint championships Canadian and Hawaiian crews have dominated our division and we intend to end their run of success. To do so we have to have the commitment and perseverance to train hard through the winter. This involves 4 - 5 paddling sessions and at least 3 gym sessions a week in order for the crew's performance to peak at the World Champs. 

International Va’a Federation World Sprint Championships

13th-24th August, 2024

Ruby's will be racing V6 (six-man waka) in the straight 500m sprint, the V6 500m with 1 turn and the V12 where we combine with another crew from the Aotearoa, New Zealand for a 500m sprint. 

Leading the way

We are refusing to act our age. Our crew wants to showcase that age is just a number, not a barrier to participation at any level, local, national or international. We want to demonstrate what is possible when we take action and what is possible when we all work together.
He waka eke noa
We are all in this together – we rise together, fall together, work together, keep going together.

Ruby's - ambassadors for our age

Ruby’s crew consists of 6 paddlers, all based in Whakatū/Nelson. All of us are grandmothers in our seventies who are passionate about waka ama. The crew are all late starters to competing at national and international levels. 

Just six weeks to train

We had just six weeks to train for the Waka Ama National Sprint Championships at Lake Karāpiro this January. Our stroke (seat 1) came down with Covid the day before she was to fly from Nelson. The frantic search for a fill-in paddler began. We were so lucky that Julie Fox, from Tauranga, could join us.

Bringing home 2 silver medals

Ruby’s were the least experienced crew in our age group at nationals, we were the “wild card”. We won silver in both the 500m sprint and the 500m turns race. The pride and excitement of winning two silver medals, as well as coming second in the V12 race, made us realise that worlds was a real possibility. 

It was the base fitness of the crew that did it. Everyone is totally committed to their water and gym training. This is what makes the magic happen. 

Meet our crew members
Masters 70 crew Ruby's with their 2 silver medals

What it takes to get there

Commitment - Perseverance - Time - Financial Support - Team work

We are excited and motivated to do really well which means we have to “work our butts off” between now and August. We are all superannuitants with varying financial resources. As a crew we made the commitment to get all of us to World Sprints regardless of financial ability. This is a very big kaupapa. To do this we need financial support. It’s all a very fine balance, as we also need to maintain our well-being, keep up all our training, while still retaining our love of paddling and our lives outside of paddling. 

We welcome your support


In order to get to the World Champs in Hawai’i this year we are having to think outside the square to raise the funds required to get the whole crew to Hilo. Fundraising takes a lot of time and energy, so we are fortunate to have the support of our club members (120) and various friends who have offered to help us with various fundraising events. 

A number of events are currently in the planning stages:

  • Movie night – 20 April
  • Bingo night – 21 May
  • Catering & stock taking
  • Picking grapes
  • Raffles

Contributions & donations

We are also aware that our fundraising efforts will not be enough, so we are asking for help in the form of donations, sponsorship and product to use for raffles. The money raised will be used to offset the cost of:

  • Uniforms
  • Gym training
  • *Steering hoe (Thanks Fresh Choice:)
  • Set of 6 paddles
  • Airfares Nelson to Hilo
  • Travel Insurance (we have to be covered while racing!)
  • Accommodation in Hilo
  • Race entry fee
  • Vehicle hire to get us to and from the venue in Hilo

* funded and ordered

You can make online donations via our bank account.

Acct. Name: RUBYS Acct. No: 12-3165-0375883-50

Can you help us get there?

If you feel drawn to contribute to our journey in any way we would love to hear from you. We can supply budgets and figures (and maybe get you in a waka:) Thank you.


Want to help?  Email us

Meet our Ruby's crew

In early April we suffered a setback as Joyce fell and broke her hip. She is well on the way to recovery and hopeful that she will be fit enough to paddle in Hawaii. This has meant that we have brought 2 more paddlers on board to cover us, just in case:) They are Lynette Campbell from Maitahi and Jane Broughton from Hauraki. We have also lost Rongomai for personal reasons. 

Penny Molnar steerer

Penny Molnar

Steerer (Seat 6)
Nelson has given our whanau a community, opportunities, adventures and heaps of fun. The last 20 years in waka ama has given me plenty of watery delights, challenges and another special sense of belonging thanks to Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
Heather Law paddler

Heather Law

Seat 2
Previously a teacher, now on 'extended vacation'. I’ve lived in Nelson since 2020 and have been paddling about 3 years. I competed at my first ever nationals event this year. We returned with 2 silver medals. Woohoo:) Waka ama definitely challenges me and has broadened my whanaungatana. 
Carol Hunter

Carol Hunter

Seat 4
Why do I paddle? It's the importance of social connections, meeting up with like-minded people all over the Motu. There is a spirituality (Wairuatanga) when paddling in the waka.
Lynette Campbell

Lynette Campbell

Seat 5
Jan Blythe

Jan Blythe

Seat 2
Paddling is my passion; my happy place is on the water. Through paddling I now have an extended whānau across Aotearoa. Waka ama keeps me fit, active and engaged. It's such an honour and a privedge to be able to compete nationally and internationally at my age. 
Joyce Thevenaz

Joyce Thevenaz

Seat ?3
I paddle to enjoy the serenity of the ocean. The fitness to paddle is a privilege. To be able to compete at a world level in a sport I love is the most amazing experience ever!
Jan Broughton

Jane Broughton

Seat ?3
Jane norammly paddles for Hauraki but has come onto our roster for this campaign.

Meet our Whakatū/Nelson based support team

Rounding out our all-Whakatū/Nelson-based team are our mangers, Linda & Paul Heath (Maitahi Outrigger), as well as our coaches, Zoe Horvath and Huriana Lawrence from Whakatū Waka Ama Club.
Linda Heath

Linda Heath

Linda is our manager for Hilo. She is an outdoor instructor at Whenua Iti Outdoors who has competed at national and international levels. She will be accompanied by her husband Paul who is our researcher, tech guy, driver and backup support.
Zoe Horvath

Zoe Horvath

Zoe is an experienced paddler who has competed nationally and internationally. Her love and commitment to the sport started in Hawai'i and has continued in Whakatū Nelson. Her wide experience, particularly as a steerer, is an asset to our crew.
Huriana Lawrence - waka ama coach

Huriana Lawrence

Huriana is an experienced paddler who has competed nationally and internationally. She is dedicated to the sport of waka ama and brings a refreshing directness to coaching. She is not afraid to tell us "how it is":) 

Bingo night

Join us for an evening of Bingo. There will be Four rounds! Each one with a different way to win!

Raffles will be available.

When: Tuesday 21st May from 5pm

Where: Two Thumbs Brewery

$20 a ticket (+$2.20 booking fee)

Tickets on Eventbrite

Buy Tickets

Heartfelt thanks goes to our supporters

Ruby's would like to thank all those (named and un-named) who have supported us.
We are very grateful.

Our premium sponsors

Want to jump in the waka with us?

Email Jan