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816 paddlers, 100 crews

Saturday 14 November 2009 | Published in Regional

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With 100 crews and 816 paddlers registered for the 2009 Vaka Eiva Festival – new racing categories and awards feature in this year’s programme scheduled to start next Friday November 20.

This year, open mixed and senior masters crews will be as prominent as the open men’s and women’s teams in the main race, the round Raro relay.

Fourteen V6 open mixed crews will tackle the 12km Avana Iron course for the inaugural Bob Worthington Memorial Trophy on Monday 23 November.

The new trophy is in honour of the late Bob Worthington who was a constant source of support and advice for Vaka Eiva organisers since the first festival in 2004.

Vaka Eiva event coordinator Victoria Dearlove says that Bob always had constructive feedback after every event and one of the most important pieces of advice he shared with organisers was to maintain the traditions and cultural aspects of paddling within the festival.

“And that’s exactly what sets apart the Vaka Eiva festival from every other paddling event,” says Dearlove.

The traditional vaka blessing ceremony before every festival, prayers and blessings before every race and respect for the vaka and sea are just some of the aspects of the Vaka Eiva festival that Worthington encouraged and continues today.

Dearlove says that they plan to lift the status of the Bob Worthing Memorial Trophy for the open mixed category to match the prestigious Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle trophy’s for the round Raro relay.

This means that next year’s open mixed crews in the round Raro relay will vie for the Bob Worthington Trophy.

Paddlers will have fun and be challenged with seven jam-packed days of paddling.

After the traditional vaka blessing ceremony on Friday November 20, the first races will be held on Saturday – the OC 1 Avana 12km and 18km Iron.

Paddlers will get a break on Sunday November 22. The V6 12km and 18km Avana iron races will be held on Monday November 23.

Tuesday November 24 will see junior paddlers in the limelight with the inaugural Mapu (youth) oe vaka sprints at Muri.

The Trader Jacks charity boiler swim will also be held on Tuesday afternoon including the opening of the Oe Vaka Art Exhibition at the Art Studio in Arorangi.

Senior paddlers will gather at Muri on Wednesday November 25 for the sprints, Muri mingler party and Steinies in your Eyes talent competition.

Junior paddlers will take to the open ocean and lagoon on Thursday November 26 for their 4km, 6km, and 15km races.

Then it’s the round island action on Friday November 27 with the Pacific Paddle and Pacific Cup trophies up for grabs in the round Raro relay races.

At the end of the race, paddles will be hung up and paddlers will let loose at the wrap up party of the festival at Trader Jacks.