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Making news on the ocean waves

Wednesday 17 November 2010 | Published in Regional

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In between court reporting and police news – Cook Islands News reporter Rachel Reeves has been putting in the hard yards on the water ahead of her first Vaka Eiva festival.

The 22-year-old was born and raised in Redondo Beach, California, and is American and German on her mother’s side and Atiuan and British on her father’s side.

She moved to Rarotonga in January this year and after some encouragement from her aunt Michele Reeves, who herself is a keen paddler – Rachel joined the Ngakau Toa Vaka club.

Not six months later she is pumped and ready for Vaka Eiva.

Rachel says she has always been into keeping fit and is religious about jogging and going to the gym.

Growing up she played soccer, softball, water polo and indoor and beach volleyball plus she windsurfs, snowboards and has done a bit of wakeboarding and surfing.

So it was no wonder she easily adapted to oe vaka.

“I didn’t really go into paddling expecting to race in Vaka Eiva,” says Rachel.

“I didn’t even think that far ahead – I just joined to stay in shape.”

Rachel recalls huffing and puffing after her first oe vaka race and with arms of jelly she would have told you then that there was no way she would be paddling at Vaka Eiva.

“But after a while, I thought, I’m not training this hard for nothing!” says Rachel.

“I’m nervous, no doubt – I’m a newbie, and most of these girls are old pros but I’m stoked to be a part of Vaka Eiva and I’m really looking forward to it.”

“I think I’d be really bummed if I had to just sit on the sidelines and watch.”

She added that paddling on the seas of Rarotonga is a pretty indescribable experience.

“Paddling is such an awesome sport – you’re breaking a sweat and you’re pushing yourself physically and mentally but you also just happen to be on a cerulean ocean under the sun against a backdrop of lush green mountains, metres away from breaching whales. It’s pretty surreal sometimes.”

Rachel says she’s met some awesome girls and even met her flatmate through paddling.

She adds that it’s been pretty hard out – running four to five times a week plus paddling three times a week and going to the gym.

“I’m chaffed, bruised, sore and sunburnt – but I know it’s all going to pay off!”

Rachel will be stroking for a Ngakau Toa women’s crew during the Iron races on Monday plus she will be in amongst all the action during the Wednesday Muri sprints.

But the race she is most looking forward to is the mixed round Raro race next Thursday with the Bob Worthington Trophy up for grabs.

“That will be pretty special because Bob Worthington was kind of like a father to my dad and kind of like a grandfather to me.”