The 36-kilometre course through the stunning lagoon was picturesque with the crystal clear water and sunny conditions, which were welcomed by the paddlers from Canada, USA, Brazil, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Also joining the visiting paddlers are local paddlers from Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Six teams made up of 10 paddlers, with an even mix of juniors, masters and open paddlers were announced just before the race. Crews had to quickly work out their combinations that would work best in the team.
The start line was just outside Arutanga harbour then the vaka headed south towards Motu Maina iti for their first change before paddling through coral gardens to more change overs at Moturakau. After a relaxed start, Team Exodus in the purple M2M vaka pulled ahead and maintained their lead to the finish line. Last year, the race ended at Moturakau when cyclonic conditions arrived, but there was no sign of anything like that this year as the crews continued towards the Tapuaetai channel.
Team BSP were sitting in third for most of the race and made a move on Team Pacific Resort on the way to the beach change at Akiami and the positions remained unchanged for the final straight home to the finish at Ootu Beach.
Yesterday was a rest day but the paddlers will be hitting the water again today for a fun sprint day at Ootu beach kicking off at 10am.