Thirteen canoes lined up for the 36km round island relay race heading from “The Boiler” start line heading east towards Matavera and getting the adrenalin pumping immediately.
Men’s division paddlers peeled ahead of their female counterparts, with the Toa Fetu Boyz from local Ngakau Toa Vaka club exerting their dominance on the surf leg of the round island race after Avana and right along Vaka Takitumu.
Crews clocked speeds of up to 20 knots on the leg, with Toa Fetu Boyz steerer Tupuna Amo really showing his superior surf skills.
Adding to the crew’s success was a balanced crew mix of young up-and-coming paddlers of the likes of Otea Tommy, skilled national paddlers Tupuna Amo, John Beasley and Andre Tutaka-George. The crew also included cool old heads such as Paul Pearson to steer their vaka home across the line to take out the men’s Pacific Cup.
The winning lads had plenty of time to grab a beer and cheer across the line their fellow Ngakau Toa Vaka paddlers the Toa Ketaketa master men crewed by regular Vaka Eiva paddler Clayton and paddling warhorse Fletcher Melvin, boosted by band of local and visiting paddling brothers.
The hardcore paddlers were zapped at the end of the race after having punched their way through strong winds from the Black Rock making for a punishing finishing leg of the infamous round island relay race.
The local master men crew Toa Ketaketa crossed the line in 3.12.05 closely followed by Moorea crew I Mua Nui with a time of 3.13.14 to take out third place overall.
Local Te Tupu O Te Manava’s Boiler Silver Fox crew were first senior master men home in 4th place overall in a time of 3.23.47 followed by the Australians Pacific Dragons in 6th overall.
Ngakau Toa Vaine dug deep on the final leg home to reclaim the Pacific Paddle trophy in the women’s division, crossing the line as 7th crew home overall followed by fellow local women the Boiler Babes from the Te Tupu O Te Manava club.
Mooloolaba placed third in the women with the last crew around the island in over two hours after the winning Ngakau Toa Vaka men’s crew proving it was an epic day on the water for all paddlers.
It will be a rest day for paddlers today before they do it all again on Friday in the Bob Worthington Memorial trophy in the mixed round Raro relay race. - MW