New Zealand Women’s Rafting Team Take WorldChampionship Crown which included our very own Rangi Rapana from Police Sport!

Congratulations to our incredible NZ Women’s Rafting Team who have returned from the 2024 World Rafting Championships in Banja Luka, Bosnia with an outstanding achievement – World Champions!

The team, consisting of Rangi Rapana (Police Sport member), Kelly Wood, Denise Martin, and Nikki Whitehead, put on a dominant performance across four action-
packed days, securing an impressive two gold medals and two silver medals. Their consistency on the podium throughout the competition saw them crowned the overall World Champions – a truly remarkable feat!

Going for Gold

With their sights set on a clean sweep, the team arrived at the competition brimming with confidence. Day one kicked things off perfectly with a gold medal win in the Sprint Time Trial, leaving Japan and the USA in their wake. This challenging event involved navigating a grade 3-4 rapid before finishing with a final push down a flat stretch of river – a test of both speed and skill that the team aced.

Facing Challenges Head-On

Day two brought a slight detour on the road to gold. While favoured to win the Head-to-Head race, an unfortunate incident saw their raft pop as Japan nudged them into jagged edged rocks while negotiating a turn. This resulted in a silver medal finish, but their fighting spirit shone through as they battled back from the disappointment. It’s worth noting that three other rafts also experienced similar issues on this day, highlighting the demanding nature of the competition.

Adapting & Overcoming

Day three saw the team tackle the Slalom event, where precise manoeuvring through gates is key. After a strong first run putting them in the lead, a small setback
in the second run saw them finish in 6th place. However, their determination never faltered, and their impressive first-run time secured them a well-deserved silver
medal. The Czech Republic edged them out for gold by mere seconds, with Australia taking the bronze.

Dominating the Downriver

Heading into the final day, the New Zealand team held a second-place position overall thanks to their consistent podium finishes. The 14km Downriver race
presented the ultimate test, and our champions rose to the occasion once again. With a clear goal to establish an early lead and maintain it throughout, they executed flawlessly, extending their advantage over the course and finishing a staggering minute ahead of the second-place team. This dominant victory cemented their position as the World Champions!

A Long-Awaited Triumph

This win marks a significant milestone for New Zealand Rafting. It’s been five years since the country last participated in the World Championships due to COVID-19,
making this victory even sweeter. The men’s team also displayed their talent, securing a respectable 9th place finish.

A Team of Exceptional Talent

A shoutout to Rangi Rapana for providing a detailed report on events, and congratulations to all the team members – Kelly Wood, Denise Martin, and Nikki
Whitehead. Their exceptional whitewater skills and unwavering determination were on full display throughout the competition.

Police Sport NZ is incredibly proud of the New Zealand Women’s Rafting Team for their outstanding achievement. They have brought immense honour to themselves, their sport, and our organisation.