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Monday 14 June 2010 | Published in Regional

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As predicted, local champion paddler Reuben Dearlove took out the open men’s 24km Te Aito Cook Islands race on Saturday with a huge 11 minute lead on second place getter and event organiser Fletcher Melvin.

Dearlove raced in his brand new carbon fibre V1 vaka which drew plenty of attention as it glided with ease from the Trader Jacks beach to the start of the race and on to win the race in a time of 2.16.25.

Conditions were fairly flat and very hot making for a very tough race.

But the race of the weekend was in the women’s open Aito with Serena Hunter making her come back to oe vaka in style by taking out the women’s race.

Hunter has been working on her fitness through triathlon training and this paid off on Saturday as Hunter chased race leader Paio Short for most of the women’s 12km race.

“Paio had a fantastic race – she led for most of the way,” said Hunter.

But Hunter paced herself and then made her move on the final leg of the race for what was a sprint finish at the Avarua harbour with Hunter winning by a 8 seconds over Short in 1.22.30.

In the under 19 division – Emilene Taulu won the girls 12 km race in a time of 1.28.19 to come home 4th overall in the women’s race.

“The race was really hard and hot – I forgot to hop in the water before my race and that made it hotter!” Taulu said.

Andre Tutaka-George was just too good in the under 19 boys race winning in a time of 1.27.1.

Dearlove, Hunter, Taulu and Tutaka-George now prepare for the Aito Tahiti as their prize for winning the first ever Aito Cook Islands are tickets to the world renowned race in Tahiti.

Hunter said that she will be taking the race in Tahiti very seriously and she will be training hard over the coming weeks to prepare for the event and no doubt so will her fellow paddlers who’ve won the same privilege as Hunter to race in Tahiti.

- Matariki Wilson

Results, more photos

page 8