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Thursday 24 November 2011 | Published in Regional


Australian womens crew Crown Beach Belles are this years queens of the Pacific Paddle Round Raro Race after blitzing 16 other crews to win the race in 3:14:45.

The Belles crossed the line just over 2 minutes ahead of the tough Cook Islands national squad who spent the morning hunting down the Belles.

The Belles took the early lead in the 7am race with team Manuz and Jemimaz in second and the national womens squad in third place.

Crews encountered flat and light breezy conditions on the first leg of the race from Avarua harbour to Nikao.

After 20 minutes of racing, crews were allowed to begin changing out players and most crews took the opportunity but the Belles took a different tack.

The crew paddled fiercely for over 40 minutes before making their first change a tactic that without a doubt won them the race.

Meanwhile the local national womens squad had made three changeouts before the Belles made their first.

By the start of Arorangi the national squad pulled in Manuz and Jemimaz and dug deep to hunt down the Belles who had already established a good 300m lead over the national squad.

The Belles maintained the distance for the remainder of the race while the local girls continued a strong chase.

Crews encountered rough conditions around the Aroa point before the sea conditions flattened out around Titikaveka and Muri.

At Avana a whale warning was sent out to all crews as a mother and calf frolicked outside Apii Te Uki Ou.

The whale sighting drew cheers and hoots from crews as they paddled past the breaching mum and calf.

But the Belles werent the least bit interested in the whales as they pointed the nose of their vaka homeward to take the 2011 Pacific Paddle title.

Annie Fisher, one of the national womens oe vaka crews most experienced paddlers said that of all the Vaka Eiva races she has been in, Wednesdays race was one of the most special.

It was a really special race because it was a national squad, local girls and knowing that you were paddling for the country, commented Fisher after her race.

Fisher has paddled in all Vaka Eiva events except for 2010 when she took a short time off paddling.

Fisher says that she and the national squad are extremely proud and happy with their race and especially for paddling as a family and staying strong as they encountered the various sea conditions around the island.

The ladies now look forward to teaming up with their men folk for todays Bob Worthington Memorial Trophy mixed Round Raro Relay.