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Last big test for local paddlers

Friday 13 November 2009 | Published in Regional

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The Ngakau Toa open men’s oe vaka crew is well on their way to retaining the Vaka Eiva Pacific Cup after registering a great win at last weekend’s round Rarotonga changes race.

It was the last race of the national oe vaka calendar with crews challenged by a range of conditions around the island.

Paddlers had to work hard to protect their ama from southeasterly winds as they paddled clockwise around island.

The Ngakau Toa open men’s team was decisive in getting home first in a great time of 2.53.39 but will need to dig deeper if they are win this year’s Vaka Eiva Pacific Cup.

Last year the team not only won the cup but also clocked a new course record in a time of 2.34.19.

The crews were met with heavy swells around the south side of the island before hitting calmer waters around Arorangi.

Side swells greeted paddlers on their final leg of the race around the Blackrock area with a final challenging head wind heading back to the Avarua harbour.

Thanks to two years of coaching by John Taulu, Te Tupu o te Manava under 19 men’s crew proved that they also have what it takes to compete at this level.

The young crew of talented paddlers managed to come in 4th spot in a time of 3.35.49 behind their open mixed team and masters team that took out second place in 3.01.40.

Support and safety boats were always close on hand during the race and were there to deal with canoes capsizsing.

However, crews were quick to respond and continue racing.

Overall it was a great day’s racing with many new paddlers notching up their first ever round Raro relay race.

Paddlers will now go through their final preparations ahead of Vaka Eiva 09 staring next Friday (November 20).

Round Raro relay results: 1 Ngakau Toa open men 2.54:39, 2 Te Tupu master men 3.01:40, 3 Te Tupu mixed open 3.01:51, 4 Te Tupu U19 boys 3.35:49, 5 Ngakau Toa open women 3.41:42, 6 Ngakau Toa mixed open 3.49:03, 7 Te Tupu mixed master 4.08:36.