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Coach helps paddlers

Tuesday 31 August 2010 | Published in Regional

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Australian national kayak coach Jim Walker has been supporting and assisting the Cook Islands Canoeing Association in developing a coaching structure for the local association.

Walker has a busy schedule of coaching oe vaka coaches here on Rarotonga and on Aitutaki but he is expected to make several more trips to the island to coincide with preparations for the annual Vaka Eiva Festival preparations.

On Saturday paddlers gathered at Avarua harbour for the blessing of eight surf skis donated by the Oceania Canoeing Association which Walker will be introducing to local paddlers.

Plans for his future visits to the island will be to setting up a development programme for the ‘sprint canoeing’ class including kayaking.

The programme is funded by the International Olympic Committee as kayaking is a recognised Olympic sport.

While ocean surf ski racing is not yet an Olympic sport but it is understood that it is only a matter of time before surf ski becomes an Olympic sport.

Cook Islands Canoeing Association vice president Janet Maki says that experts have advised that given our ocean conditions, the best way to learn and begin development is on the surf skis.

“This is why we have surf skis at the moment and not the kayaks but there will be a transition to kayaks at a later stage,” Maki says. Walker has begun his coaching programme on Monday with local oe vaka coaches and this will continue today.

This Wednesday, local paddlers are invited to Muri lagoon for a demonstration on the surf skis by Walker.

Walker will speak about the goals of the programme and go through some basic lessons on the surf skis. This session will begin at 4.30pm.

Walker was a finalist in K4 kayak at the Atlanta Olympics, world cup kayaking gold medallist and Australian National Surf Ski gold medallist.

Walker also owns a kayak building business.