Motu2Motu, the annual paddling race around Aitutaki's stunning lagoon, continues to grow in 2018.
About 100 international paddlers participated in this year's event, representing eight nations, USA, Hawaii, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands. This was also the first time Aitutaki has hosted paddlers from Germany and Japan.
Seventy per cent of the international paddlers had flown to the Cook's just for Motu2Motu without competing at the larger Rarotongan Vaka Eiva event the week earlier.
This year was the inclusion of an Iron Race Day on the Monday ahead of the main Motu2Motu race on Tuesday, December 4.
The Iron races allowed paddlers to put their own teams together, and for many of the paddlers it would also be their first chance to check out the stunning Aitutaki lagoon.
Twelve teams competed in Iron event which saw teams race from Arutanga wharf towards Motu Rapota, then turn back to the wharf.
Possible showers were forecast for the main race on Tuesday, but 116 paddlers were greeted with a little sunshine as they set out to start.
The race this year was much closer this year than last year with the lead changing many times. The changeovers were exciting places for spectators, as paddlers swapped in and out at some of the most beautiful locations on Aitutaki.
Post-race, a prize giving and kaikai kicked off at the Aitutaki Fishing Club to the sounds of very popular music duo, Tani and Rose.
Thursday saw a casual style canoe sprint day at Ootu Beach, a great way to top off what is becoming almost a week-long paddling affair now. It's not hard to see why 50 per cent of paddlers this year were returnees. Motu2Motu is offering a unique event that is certainly finding its niche, with entries have already been received for 2019’s event.
This event wouldn’t be possible without the full support of many people and paddlers in Aitutaki.