The River Runners paddling team from Ottawa, Canada will compete at the Oe Vaka Nationals on the weekend. Pictured from left, Marie-Andree Jacques, Diane Crocker, Lynn Shepherd, Catherine Smyth and Claire Robinson. Back, from left, Isabelle Fradette, Ian Robinson and Mark Brule. 22111705
Living nowhere near the ocean, the River Runners paddling team from Ottawa, Canada who are here for the first time, are looking forward to their very first ocean race in the Oe Vaka Nationals tomorrow.
The keen, lean and pleased River Runners paddling team
of Marie-Andree Jacques, Diane Crocker, Lynn Shepherd, Catherine Smyth, Claire
Robinson, Isabelle Fradette, Ian Robinson and Mark Brule are excited to race in
this year’s Oe Vaka Nationals.
“We are nowhere close to the ocean, we have to fly for
five hours to get to the Pacific, or two hours to get to the Atlantic,” said
manager of the team, Claire Robinson. “Which is why we are called the River
Runners, as there is no ocean near our homes.”
The crew have been together as an outrigger club for
two years, training on the rivers in the city – with no wind and no waves.
Seven of the team members have been dragon boat paddlers
for 10 years.
River Runners have a women’s crew and a mixed crew who
will compete in tomorrow’s V12 and next Saturday’s Round Rarotonga, then fly out
to Aitutaki for the Motu to Motu races.
Visiting Rarotonga for the first time, the crew are having
a great time enjoying outdoor activities on the island.
“The racing, the paddling, it’s exactly the paddling,
we’ve come to paddle,” said Robinson.
“We’re grateful for the welcome we’re receiving. They’re
allowing us to use their boats, and today (yesterday) they helped us with some
steering because we aren’t used to the ocean, and they’re helping with training
“We’ve had some practice runs and it’s been amazing,
we’re enjoying it. We’re very fortunate we’ve been greeted by very kind
Having planned this trip for some time, the team received
remote coaching from New Zealand-based Vesna Radonich who is expected to arrive
today to join the River Runners.
The Nationals will get underway on Saturday with the
V6 12km Iron Race – U19 and Masters (40+) and V6 18km Iron Race (open’s)
starting at 1pm from Avarua Harbour.
Registrations start at 11.30am at the Vaka Shed.
On Monday, November 21, a short but intense 5km race
will take place in the U16 junior division.