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Saturday 27 August 2011 | Published in Regional


Stand-up paddling enthusiast Charlotte Piho says she was overwhelmed by the interest from both locals and visitors in the Cook Islands first-ever stand-up paddling races.

Piho organised Walk on Water Week, which involved a number of paddleboard races at Muri lagoon and pitted islands, locals, visitors and kids against one another in the spirit of healthy competition.

Australian stand-up paddling champion Travis Grant was there to coach clinics for the general public, which so happened to include the visiting Waitakere football team, and to join Piho in promoting his sport in the Cook Islands.

He and Piho even delivered clinics on Aitutaki last weekend.

The inaugural Walk on Water Week race set northern group islands against one another youth from Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn who were on Rarotonga for Te Maeva Nui took part and was closely followed by a Celebrity Dash involving such local celebrities as Kevin Iro, Brendon Heath and Kelly Pick.

The final race was termed Battle of the Paddle Cook Islands, taking its name and its course design from the famed Hawaii race which Grant won earlier this year.

Paddlers raced a W-shaped course, which tested their turning skills, and did some soft-sand running.

Among the coveted prizes were a weekend for two at Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Sunny King paddleboards, lunch at the Little Polynesian, dinner at Waterline, breakfast at Sails and Captain Tamas lagoon cruises.

With Pacific Resort Rarotongas Beach Hut Boys playing drums and the sun shining, (we) couldnt have asked for a better way to end the week long event, Piho said.

Winner of the mens event was New Zealand stand-up paddling and professional long boarder Sean Hovell. The Hunter family put up a strong fight a pregnant Serena Hunter took out the womens race, her husband Conrad was a runner-up in the mens race and their son Jaden won the kids category.

Im hugely excited to see the sport grow and grow here and cant wait till 2012 where the race will hopefully attract international guests both professional and novice, Piho said. With a story in the next SUPWORLD Magazine covering the week and other media contacting me wanting to check the Cook Islands out, I cant wait to see everyone soon walking or doing the hula on water over here.

Piho has confirmed her next event Workout on Water Week, the focus of which will be SUP yoga, or yoga classes on stand-up paddleboards.

The retreat will coincide with Vaka Eiva and will be either the first or second week of November. Roxy-sponsored professional stand up paddler Gillian Gibree, who was ranked number two in 2010, has confirmed she will be attending.

I want to keep promoting the sport and bringing over top athletes and shes one of the founders of yoga on SUP I want to give people the opportunity to learn from the best in the world.

For more information, contact Piho on 22525 or 57291.

Piho thanks Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Sunny King Paddleboards, Cook Islands Tourism, Pacific Divers, Hot Potato, Air Rarotonga, Captain Tamas Lagoon Cruises, Klassic Pearls, Sails, Waterline, Little Polynesian and CINews for their support.