Kuki paddlers versus the world

Wednesday July 13, 2016 Written by Published in Paddling
Kuki paddlers Poppy and Stephen Doherty, and Teina and Johnny Taulu race across New York’s Hudson River last month. 16071120 Kuki paddlers Poppy and Stephen Doherty, and Teina and Johnny Taulu race across New York’s Hudson River last month. 16071120

IT WAS a race of a lifetime for Kuki paddlers representing the Cook Islands to the New York Liberty Challenge Vaka Race in New York in June. Poppy and Stephen Doherty with Teina and Johnny Taulu joined over 500 competitors from around the world who raced across New York’s Hudson River.


Doherty and Taulu raced first in the 24km men’s race. After a while, Taulu then joined Poppy and Teina as they raced in the 18km mixed race.

The race may have been exhausting, but the views from the vaka of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Governor’s and Ellis Island, the New York skyline and the beautiful Lady Liberty were certainly rewarding.

Doherty said the paddlers also teamed up with familiar faces from the Canadian team Wai Nui O Kanaka who are annual visitors to Vaka Eiva and the Aitutaki-based Motu2Motu.

“The Wai Nui o Kanaka team offered two of their unlimited vaka to be fully branded using the new Cook Islands look and feel logos and colours,” said Doherty.

“There was no lack of kuki pride on race day as the North American based office of the Cook Islands Tourism signed up as Kevey sponsors who set up a promotional booth on the pier.

“To say the vaka stood out amongst all of the other canoes is an understatement, one could see the Cook Islands’ logo from one side of the Hudson River to the other.”.

Doherty added that despite the challenges they faced during the race, the experience they had was fun.

“There were competitors from Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Dubai, Hawaii, the Cook Islands, the USA and Canada. 

“As you can imagine the conditions aren’t the only thing the paddlers needed to be mindful of as the ever-present boat traffic on the river played its own part during the race.

“For safety reasons we all had to give way to the ferries and massive barges that frequently moved up and down the river, so there was a lot of stopping and starting during the race,” he said. The team would like to acknowledge all their sponsors for allowing them the time and opportunity to represent our country to the world.

“We would like to sincerely thank Wendy Perkins and Richard Carson of Wai Nui O Kanaka for allowing us to be a part of Team Wai Nui and also to the Cook Islands Tourism North America Team, John Petersen, Marissa Smith and Christian Mani for your tremendous support of the event.”

            - Release/SR

Leave a comment