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‘Perfect storm’ hits race

Tuesday 23 November 2010 | Published in Regional

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A freak squall threw 25-knot southerly winds and heavy rain that reduced visibility to 50 metres at the best of the best yesterday in the defining race of Vaka Eiva – the 18km open men’s V6 Iron.

The mini storm seemed perfectly planned to test them in timing, endurance, bailing, steering and courage all at once.

The squall struck 10 minutes into the race after the five leading canoes had put a gap between them and the rest of the field, and raged for an hour.

For the leaders it was a case of following Te Tupu O Te Manava’s Boiler Boyz International who claimed first place and never looked like letting it go.

For the rest of the field it was a case of punching into the weather and trying to stay on a tight course to Avana, which several tail end boats failed to do, one of them relenting and making a u-turn at Matavera to head home to Avarua.

The first few winning teams were all composite crews made up of invitational club members and international paddlers.

The Boiler Boyz (1:16:47) this year included three leading New Caledonian paddlers. Second place about 150 metres behind was won by the Crown Beach Kings from Australia’s Outrigger Canoe Club (1:19:47). Third went to the Kiwi team called Outrigger NZ (1:20:00).

In fourth was Ngakau Toa Vaka (1:20:17) with a “100 percent pure local” crew. NTV, 2009 winners of the V6 Iron, fought off a long challenge for more than half of the race from Te Tupu’s Number 2 team (1:21:23) right on their tail, and shook them off in the last few kilometers as they pursued and almost ran down Outrigger NZ.

Behind Te Tupu 2 were Team Makaira (1:25:41) from the Mana Pasifika OCC in NZ and in seventh place were Ngakau Toa Vaka 2 (1:25:41). In 10th place were Aitutaki Oe Vaka in a respectable time of 1:38:23.

The result of the V6 open men’s iron is a portent of things to come in the premier round island Pacific Cup relay on Friday. The relay is raced by crews of nine paddlers doing water changeouts three paddlers at a time. The intense local rivalry between Te Tupu and Ngakau Toa will come to the fore again on Friday as they fight for supremacy, while the top Aussie and Kiwi crews will be digging deep to cause an upset.

Full Vaka Eiva coverage, pages 9 to 12.