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Big action guaranteed

Wednesday 17 November 2010 | Published in Regional


Rivalry and competition

heats up for 7th Vaka Eiva

Big seas and big action are again expected in this year’s Vaka Eiva racing programme with 800 international and local paddlers to contest the various race divisions.

The Aussies are back in force and the Kiws have brought their best while the Hawaiians and Tahitians are expected to paddle as hard as they party.

The junior Mapu Oe Vaka will also see some of the sport’s rising stars not only shine in their divisions but give some of the more mature paddlers a run this year.

Racing will officially start with the OC1 and V1 Iron 12km and 18km on Saturday 20th which has attracted over 100 individual paddlers.

A star-studded line up will contest the men’s division with top local paddler Reuben Dearlove to defend his 2009 title and so will third place getter Todd Cohen from Australia.

Making life tough for Dearlove will be his fellow Boiler Boys ‘ring ins’ from New Caledonia – Titouan Puyo, George Taero and Nicholas Mathies.

Although in his 40s – Australia’s top paddler Chris Maynard is also expected to feature at the front of the pack, with his 16-year-old son Jackson also expected to be a standout paddler in the junior division.

Cook Islander Tapa Worthington, from Hawaii, is not to be underestimated either and will be paddling under the Australia Paddling Promotions banner this year.

With Australian swimming great and overall winner of the 2009 12km women’s race Lisa Curry tipped to only race in the V6 iron this year – the race is up for grabs for anyone this year.

Leading local all-round athlete Serena Hunter missed last year’s Vaka Eiva but will be back on the water to show that she’s still got what it takes to be a champion paddler.

She’s definitely one to watch in the women’s division and she will be keeping her eye out for rising Kiwi paddler Vesna Radonich who placed 6th overall at Te Aito Tahiti earlier this year.

Big Hawaii’s Shin Lu Stokesbury is also expected in the top bunch and so are some of the ace paddlers from Lara’s Lot.

Come Monday, these individual paddlers will slot back into their crew for the V6 Iron races.

Outrigger New Zealand is being touted as one of the strongest crews on the island featuring some of New Zealand’s best and brightest oe vaka paddlers while Paddling Promotions from Australia boast some of Aussie’s most experienced paddlers including Chris Maynard, Todd Murray and Rob Pomie who’ve been paddling together for some 20 years.

Team Curry, who are paddling under the guidance of Lisa Curry, may be fun loving Aussie chicks but they are not to be laughed at on the water.

Another Aussie team to watch out for is Patterson Lakes – a crew of strong women paddlers lead by Cook Islander Vianni Tixier.

Raiatea Hoe paddlers have come to Rarotonga on the back of the epic three-day 100km Hawaiki Nui race in Tahiti – their warm up event for Vaka Eiva.

Not all the action will be in the open division though as competition is just as fierce in the masters and senior master divisions.

Anona and Nappy Napoleon are back with the Anuenue team who’ve been coming to Rarotonga since the start of Vaka Eiva in 2004.

Don’t be fooled by the age of these paddlers who are between 60 and 70 as they’ve proven on a number of occasions that experience can win races over youth.

The Hawaiian Canoe Club will also field a senior master’s mixed team who never stop paddling.

The Bob Worthington Memorial Trophy for the mixed round Raro relay race next Thursday will be just as hotly contested at the Pacific Paddle and Pacific Cup round Raro trophies for the open women and men on Friday.

In fact, some of the paddlers taking on the mixed round Raro on Thursday will saddle up again for the main race on Friday.

This just proves what a tough and exciting festival Vaka Eiva 2010 is going to be.