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Tuesday 20 July 2010 | Published in Regional


Strong performances at the Te Aito Tahiti by the Cook Islands five paddlers have earned them accolades from some of the world’s best paddlers.

Women paddlers Emilene Taulu, Vaea Melvin and Serena Hunter hit the Tahiti surf first on Friday for their debut race in howling winds and choppy seas.

The conditions tested the 40 women and 30 junior paddlers in the 14km V1 rudderless race.

Hunter, Taulu and Melvin held their positions in the top third of the field to finish in the top 20 paddlers.

Hunter was first home in 13th place overall in a time of 1 hr 46mins 28secs, just 12 minutes behind the race winner while Taulu was 15 overall in a time of 1hr 48mins 45secs.

Melvin finished about 18th in a time of about 1hr 55mins.

On Saturday the local male paddlers Reuben Dearlove and Fletcher Melvin lined up along 580 other paddlers for the gruelling 28km Te Aito Tahiti race.

Despite the chaos – the local boys were thrilled with their achievements resulting in the world’s best making mental notes to keep an eye on Cook Islands paddlers in future events.

Dearlove placed 63rd overall however it is believed that he could rise up the ranks after controversy saw 72 paddlers disqualified for breaking the race start rule.

His time of 2hrs 30mins was the best time clocked by a foreign or international paddler and has qualified him for the prestigious Te Aito 100 reserved only for elite canoeists.

Fletcher Melvin finished about 180th overall but could also improve his placing once organisers have sorted out the results.

Thanks to the local paddling contingent in Tahiti – the Cook Islands are fast becoming a paddling nation to watch out for.