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Friday 26 November 2010 | Published in Regional


Paka and Tapa and crew win

inaugural Round Raro race

A star-studded crew called Okotai (as one) blitzed yesterday’s inaugural Vaka Eiva Round Raro race for mixed crews in what was an emotional race for brothers Paka and Tapa Worthington.

The brothers will lift their late father Bob Worthington’s memorial trophy at today’s awards presentations.

But for Paka, the race was more than just about his father, brother and himself.

“It was definitely an awesome race and it was a great feeling because the crew was a mix of Australians, Hawaiians and Cook Islanders,” says Paka.

“That’s why we called our crew Okotai which means as one – and that’s something my father would have been happy about.”

He says that rounding the buoy at the entrance to Avarua harbour and hearing the drums beating was a real special moment for him and the crew as they crossed the line in a blazing time of 2:45:17.

Team Okotai not only featured the Worthington brothers but also included father and son Australian champion paddlers Chris and Jackson Maynard, 2010 Vaka Eiva OC1 Iron champion Todd Cohen of Australia and Jane McKee of Hawaii.

The crew took command of the race from the start and never looked in doubt of winning the race after establishing a 200m lead on the rest of the pack by the time they reached the end of Nikao.

Battling for second and third place early in the race was the only local crew Ngakau Toa and Karere a Arikipuia open mixed teams along with the Ocean Natives master mixed crew.

Meanwhile Okotai were well ahead of the pack and with a commanding 500m lead on the chasing pack – the crew took it easy with all the paddlers, except ‘one race wonder’ Paka Worthington, to race again in today’s open men’s and women’s round Raro relays.

With 6km left in the race, Okotai were cruising home to a win followed in second place some 500m behind by master mixed crew Ocean Natives and open mixed crew Te Karere a Arikipuia.

Ngakau Toa mixed had fallen back to fourth overall and were looking good to take out third place in the open division, but fortunately for them the gun crew of Te Karere o Arikipuia flipped their vaka with a couple of kilometres left in the race.

Ngakau Toa pounced and took the opportunity to get ahead and finish third overall and second in the open division 5 minutes behind Okotai in a time of 2:50:48.

Second overall and first mixed masters team home was the impressive Ocean Natives crew in 2:50:11 followed six minutes later by Australian crew Rogz for Dogz in 2:56:16.

If yesterday’s glassy sea conditions are the same – expect to see some fast Round Raro relay times posted for today’s Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle races.