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Ocean plus lagoon in novel Te Aito course

Wednesday 30 May 2012 | Published in Regional


While recent rough weather made organising Te Aito Cook Islands a challenge, a unique race course was set for the 21 open men and junior paddlers on Monday including an ocean surf leg and flat lagoon sprint.

For the open men paddlers, the course was over 16km with top local paddler Reuben Dearlove comfortably taking out the race in 1.17.05 followed just over five minutes later by Tahiti paddler Taaroaiti Teheiura who finished in a time of 1.22.03.

Dearlove admits that the first part of the race was not easy.

”The first part of the race was hard and it took me a while to settle into the race,“ says Dearlove of the first surf leg from Avarua harbour to the Matavera point.

”Once I got my rhythm I think I went well.“

Over the first few kilometres Dearlove and 21-year-old Teheiura were paddling toe-to-toe – something that Dearlove only experiences at international races.

”There was definitely some pressure there in the first part of the race,“ says Dearlove.

Once he pulled away into the lead, Teheiura battled with OC1 paddler Josh Burrell as the pair swapped second and third positions a number of times over the course.

At one point Burrell shot to the top of the pack and shared the lead with Dearlove.

”At one point I was toe-to-toe with Josh and that gave me a real good lift before I took off into Avana passage,“ says Dearlove.

Once inside the passage and into the lagoon leg Dearlove says he knew the draining tide would be a challenge so when he turned into the lagoon through Avana passage he put the hammer down and went all out to extend his lead over the chasing pack.

He crossed the beach finish in front of cheering family and supporters before joining in and cheering the remaining paddlers across the line.

Dearlove added that he would like to see more young people start paddling and get involved in Te Aito Cook Islands.

”It would be great to see more juniors take up paddling and for more international paddlers to come and race here.“

Burrell was the first OC1 paddler home and third overall behind Teheiura in a time of 1.23.41 while under 19 paddler and rising oe vaka star Andre Tutaka-George placed fourth overall and third V1 in a time of 1.25.57 after winning the Te Aito Tama under 19 11km race in 55.26.29.

Second place in the under 19 division went to Daniel Teheitapuarii who clocked the 11km course in 1.04.53 followed by Aitutaki junior paddler Dylan Schofield in a time of 1.17.03.

The youngster proudly declared he finished his race ahead of overall champion Reuben Dearlove who chased the young man across the finish line.

Experienced paddler and Tahitian canoe builder Thomas Huata smiled his way across the finish line just ahead of local paddler Paul Pearson.

The beach run to the finish was a new experience for many local paddlers who found their legs cramped once they landed on the beach causing much ado as they attempted to get their legs moving across the finish line.

Paddlers were all smiles at the Te Aito Cook Islands prizegiving where everyone received a medal including surf ski paddlers Marouna Mita and Tungane Manuel.

A special thank you was extended to Aitutaki and Tahiti paddlers who joined the races this year as well as the event’s sponsors for helping make the 2012 Te Aito Cook Islands another success.

The event’s success was toasted by Te Aito founder Charlie Maitere who again coached paddlers through the race from the media boat on Monday and added that he looked forward to more Cook Islands paddlers entering the Te Aito Tahiti.

In fact, he encouraged Cook Islands paddlers to head to Tahiti more often to help improve their oe vaka skills and techniques – especially ahead of major events such as Te Aito Cook Islands.

- Matariki Wilson

Te Aito Tane (16km ocean/lagoon race)

Dearlove Reuben (V1) 1:17:05:77

Teheiura Taaroaiti (THT V1) 1:22:03:23

Burrell Josh (OC1) 1:23:41:48

Tutaka-George Andre (V1) 1:25:57:16

Hauata Thomas (THT V1) 1:26:11:66

Pearson Paul (V1) 1:26:32:31

Raita John (OC1) 1:28:19:06

Beasley John (V1) 1:28:24:14

Mita Marouna (SS) 1:28:42:01

Amo Tupuna (V1) 1:29:11:23

Cowan Marc (OC1) 1:29:30:88

Grant Rob (OC1) 1:31:59:51

Webb Allister (V1) 1:32:59:12

Sosene Sani (V1) 1:33:29:26

Manuel Tungane (SS) 1:35:09:44

Van Wijk Kees (OC1) 1:35:31:23

Kareroa Tauraa (AIT V1) 1:45:53:98

Saboori Shahram (V1) 1:47:11:18

Melvin Fletcher (V1) DNF

Te Aito Tama (11km ocean/lagoon race)

Tutaka-George Andre (V1) 55:26:29

Teheitapuarii Daniel (V1) 1:04:53:23

Schofield Dylan (AIT V1) 1:17:03:38