Just before the start of the competition with the 1.5km swim on Saturday, the sky opened up, pouring cold water on the hotly-contested annual event at the Tikioki Tri site.
The wind also picked up, triggering heavy swells to hand a tough start to about 70 swimmers who braved that chilly conditions to start the competition.
In the meantime, the organisers after assessing the situation and consulting with police, decided to call off the 41km cycle event.
During around 40 minutes of torrential rain, most of the swimmers persevered including Kettle, who fought his way through the choppy situation, to finish first in the swim in a time of 24 minutes 57 seconds.
This gave him a perfect start to the 10km run which he finished in a time of 39:05 minutes to record the fastest time of 1 hour 4:02 minutes and win the overall and men’s titles. Kettle earlier won the 800m Boiler Swim.
Not far behind the New Zealand triathlete was the Cook Islands “wonder woman” in triathlon, Harriett Browning who finished her two events in 1 hr 9:38 mins to become the first woman and local participant to cross the finish line.
She recorded a time of 27:13 mins in the swim and 42:25 mins in the run.
Top local male triathlete Roland Neururer was third overall with a time of 1 hr 12:57 mins. He recorded 29:57 mins in the swim and 43 mins in the run.
The team category went to Team Pukekohe Travel who clocked 31:58 mins in swim and 40:55 mins in the run for a total time of 1 hr 12:53 mins.
Team HRH finished second in a time of 1 hr 20:07 mins – 32:31 mins in swim and 47:37 mins in the run.
The third place went to Team Clayton who managed 29:12 mins in swim and 52:20 mins in the run for a total time of 1 hr 21:32 mins.
Cook Islands Triathlon president Neururer said despite the unfavourable weather, the participants enjoyed competing in the tough conditions.
He said the swim event was the hardest he had competed in, with heavy swells and rain making it tough for participants.
“Luckily everybody came out of it okay, but some swimmers did not finish the event because of the tough conditions,” Neururer said.
He said the decision to cancel the cycling event was a collective one, adding the conditions would have made it too difficult to compete, and posed danger to motorists and the cyclists.
“I would say 99 per cent of the triathletes were happy with the decision that we did not cycle, given the adverse conditions. This is the first time in 24 years we haven’t had a cycling event as part of the main triathlon competition.”
Neururer said to make up for the cancellation of the cycling race, they had organised a special 6km sprint cycling event at the Rarotonga International Airport runaway tomorrow morning, starting at 7.15am.
“The two big driving forces behind this competition are Air New Zealand and the Airport Authority who have granted us the permission to use the runaway.
We are really excited with this competition.”
Female – 1. Harriet Browning 00:27:13 (swim), 00:42:25 (run), 1:09:38 (total); 2. Amy Coulton 00:27:23, 00:47:15, 1:14:38; 3. Sherid Carter 00:30:00, 00:53:05, 1:23:05. Male – 1. Sam Kettle 00:24:57, 00:39:05, 1:04:02; 2. Roland Neururer 00:29:57, 00:43:00, 1:12:57; 3. James Katene 00:37:46, 00:39:34, 1:17:19