Oe vaka team spirit draws top triathelte

Thursday November 19, 2015 Written by Published in Paddling
Seasoned triathlete Kelly Pick, pictured taking out the women’s race of the gruelling 2011 Rarotonga International Triathlon, is swapping her running shoes and goggles for a paddle and a top crew of female paddlers and taking on Vaka Eiva.  15111351 Seasoned triathlete Kelly Pick, pictured taking out the women’s race of the gruelling 2011 Rarotonga International Triathlon, is swapping her running shoes and goggles for a paddle and a top crew of female paddlers and taking on Vaka Eiva. 15111351

Top female triathlete Kelly Pick is lapping up the team spirit of outrigger paddling.

More accustomed to long lonely training sessions, the experienced athlete says she decided to take up paddling to experience the dynamics of training with a team.

Joining a team of elite national female paddlers and friends in the Ngakau Toa Vaka open women’s team, the fit mother of one busy little boy admits to some nerves at being put in the hot seat at number one.

As stroke at the front of the vaka, Pick’s job is to set the pace for her crew to follow – a dramatic change from setting her own pace in a triathlon race.

“It’s a bit of a change!” says the seasoned athlete.

“It’s just not about yourself in your own head – it’s a whole boatload of women!”

Pick says she’s basically had to learn the sport from scratch and adapt to the sport that calls for a strong upper body and core.

She is still fit from leading an active lifestyle, and Pick has been concentrating her energy on the techniques and speciality skills required for outrigger paddling.

“Paddling skills and techniques take years to master but as a crew our training sessions have been going really well and I’m really enjoying the team dynamic we have,” says Pick.

Top female paddler and Pick’s fellow crew member and trainer, Serena Hunter is pleased with the new paddlers in the crew, saying they’ve been working hard to soak up the paddling techniques.

She admits they’ve thrown Pick in the deep end, however the top paddler is confident the dedication of the first-time Vaka Eiva paddler will pay off on race day.

The Ngakau Toa Vaka open women’s team is certainly one team to keep an eye out for during the weeklong Matson Vaka Eiva 2015 paddling festival, which starts on November 20 with a traditional opening ceremony.

The week-long paddling festival will include ocean iron races, sprint races and the prestigious round Raro change over races for the Pacific Paddle in the women’s division and Pacific Cup in the men’s division.

This will be the race in which Pick and her Ngakau Toa Vaka women’s crew will aim to put all the months of hard training and camaraderie to the test. 

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