Waka Ama master Laurie Atkins, 67, grabbed his fifth gold medal at the Te Wananga o Aotearoa Long Distance Nationals in Napier on October 16.
Atkins is a member of the Tapara L Trust waka club and trains at both Omaha Beach and Pakiri Beach.
He competed in the 60-plus division against two other paddlers, including ex-All Black Alistair Robinson.
“Conditions on the day were great, but my strength is in rough waters because of where I train so I thought the race was going to be close,” Atkins says.
“I got caught up in a bunch at the start, but got clear and just kept passing people from there.”
Atkins won the 16km paddle five minutes ahead of second place. “I’m very proud that I was still competitive against other people from the age group below mine. Based on my time, I would have been second in the 50-plus division.
“Because I was so far in front of my competition it was quite an enjoyable event.”
He puts his dominant victory down to fitness and a refined training programme.
“I train for at least five hours per week and my sponsors got me a watch that allows me to see my heart-rate and other stats.
“I also learnt how to change my stroke depending on the current, and I think that gave me an advantage in this race.”
Next month he hopes to qualify for the short distance sprints event to be held in January at Lake Karapiro and his major goal is to win the world masters event when he turns 70.
Previously, Atkins has won two silvers in the long distance nationals.