The trialing squad is made up of a good mix of experienced and junior paddlers who are all still buzzing from the success and excitement of Vaka Eiva.
Husband and wife team and longtime paddling athletes Fletcher and Vaea Melvin are the coaches for the two teams with the help of team leader Dani Cochrane.
Together they have formed an intensive yet varied training programme, focusing on time on the water in V6, single canoes, fitness and strength.
Added into the training mix, most of the paddlers trialing for the men’s team are also training for the Takapuna Beach Cup Race to be held in Auckland this February.
The lads are looking to improve on their fifth placing in 2014, from a field of 32 canoes.
The Cook Islands Canoeing Association will be announcing their final travelling team in May, consisting of seven men paddlers and seven women who will contest the V6 marathon, 30km race, V6 500m and 1500m sprint race disciplines.
Of those travelling, two paddling athletes will also be named for the individual V1 disciplines to race in the 15km and 500m races.
The overall expectation is to improve on the country’s one silver and two bronze placings at the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia.
The success in 2011 was a very proud moment for CICA and paddlers, especially with Prime Minister Henry Puna presenting medals at the ceremony in Noumea and reinforcing just how important the games are to all paddlers and the countries they represent.
In past events oe vaka has received remarkable support from paddlers, clubs and the community. This year CICA understands the huge pressure participating in the games puts on athletes and their families, so together with those trialing, have committed to a number of fundraising opportunities to make their path to PNG run as smoothly as possible.
Meanwhile it’s back to full-on training for paddling athletes with an eye on the top podium at the PNG games.