Defending champions rule Te Aito

Tuesday May 31, 2016 Written by Published in Paddling
Local paddling sensation Serena Hunter successfully defended her women’s Te Aito title and unselfishly gave her winning pass to Ultimate Te Aito Tahiti in July to the second place finisher. 16053027 Local paddling sensation Serena Hunter successfully defended her women’s Te Aito title and unselfishly gave her winning pass to Ultimate Te Aito Tahiti in July to the second place finisher. 16053027

FORTY-five paddlers competed in this year’s elite individual vaka racing competition, the Te Aito 2016 over the weekend in Rarotonga.

The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with a traditional welcome and canoe blessing ceremony before the under-16 and U19 junior boys hit the water for a 7km and 12km marathon.

This was the first-ever V1 marathon race for the competitors in the U16 grade and Cook Islands Canoeing Association (CICA) events manager Chrissy Thomas said they had proven there was a bright future for Cook Islands paddling.

Teava Moate (Ngakau Toa Vaka) took line honours in the U16 division with a time of 46:17 minutes followed by Tex Framhein (Te Tupu O Te Manava) on 47:25 minutes and Tini Strickland (NTV) finishing third on 48:53 minutes.

The 12km U19 division title went to Otea Tommy (NTV) after he finished the race in 1 hour 15:30 minutes, followed by Niroa Manuela (NTV) on 1 hr. 20:49 mins and Strickland, who continued on after the U16 race, to finish third.

On Saturday, the main men’s and women’s events were held.

The start of the women’s 14km marathon saw 13 women racing in the open, master and senior master divisions.

Local paddling sensation Serena Hunter took out the overall title after clocking 1 hr. 36:40 mins. She also managed top prize in the masters division.

Becs Rassmussen finished second overall and on top in the open women’s division after finishing her race in 1 hr. 42:07 mins.

The overall third prize went to Tara Cumming, who also finished second in the open division on 1 hr. 44:11 mins.

“Serena won the Air Tahiti return ticket for women to compete at the Ultimate Te Aito Tahiti in July,” Thomas said.

“Having competed at this event a number of times, Serena has very generously passed this ticket on to her fellow competitor Becs Rassmussen to experience the challenge of racing against the world’s best.”

The men’s main event saw the 2015 reigning champion Raunui Makiroto from Tahiti, pitted against local in-form paddler Andre Tutaki George and Michel Huata from New Caledonia, who had just arrived from the Australian Te Aito, where he finished second.

There were two distances in the men’s race in 14km for the masters and senior masters’ men’s while 24km for the open men’s. The masters’ division title went to newcomer Phil Ave (NTV), who finished the race in 1 hr. 21:48 mins, followed by Ali Webb (NTV) on 1 hr. 22:11 mins and Fletcher Melvin (NTV) finishing third with a time of 1 hr. 24:59 mins.

Webb continued on after his masters division race to compete in the 24km open distance and finished sixth overall.

In the open men’s division, defending champions Makiroto from Tahiti made it back-to-back wins after claiming the 2016 title with a time of 2 hrs. 09:28 mins followed shortly by local champion George (TT) on 2 hrs. 11:02 mins and Huata from New Caledonia on 2 hrs. 12:55 mins in third.

The successful 2016 event ended with a prize giving and special barbecue hosted by main sponsor Trader Jacks.

For full results, visit www.facebook/teaitocookislands.

Leave a comment