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Paddlers battle extreme conditions

Friday 25 November 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Paddling, Sports

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Paddlers battle extreme conditions
Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pinuela paddler Teremoana Tere in the Men’s V1 15km. 22112422.

There were 24 paddlers on the start line in Wednesday’s Oe Vaka Nationals Singles event which was raced in very challenging ocean conditions with strong south easterly winds and swell.

In the Open Men’s 15km, up past Matavera point the swells got huge, the canoes turned around at Te Uki Ou school and had a big surf leg back to Avarua Harbour.

The women and men’s masters racing over 12km, turning around almost at the Matavera point, past the Boiler to turn back up and into Avarua Harbour.

The Canadian ladies ‘River Runners’ team who are used to flat and calm paddling conditions, found the conditions extremely challenging for their first ocean race. 

Te Tupu O Te Manava’s Samantha Ellison was the sole competitor in the open women OC1 division, she finished the race in a time of 1.32.25 hours.

Top local paddler Reuben Dearlove showed his class, having a 200-300 metre lead at the top turn, and extending that in the surf leg down to come across the line in a time of 1.29.16 with Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pinuela paddlers Johnno Smith and Teremoana Tere in second and third places – 1.33.20 and 1.35.24 hrs – respectively.

Dearlove said he had a great battle with Tere up until the Matavera point.

“From there I got a gap gradually using surf on the ama side, tried to save energy thinking if I have an advantage in the run home,” and after the turn he had some fun.

“The Kiwi guys did awesome in the super challenging conditions, congratulations to everyone who got out there,” said Dearlove.

The ocean conditions were “pretty hearty”, said Tere, who had good competition out there coming head to head with Dearlove.

After turning at the bouy, Tere flipped out of the canoe and had to swim back for his paddle. Besides that, coming in third was awesome, said Tere.

“The conditions were pretty out of it, huge waves, side winds, cross winds, everything all at once thrown at us.

“I’m happy to have paddled in my homeland, congratulations to all those that paddled yesterday (Wednesday), my family and friends here and back home in NZ. Looking forward to racing around Rarotonga with my Team Pineula on Saturday,” said Tere.


Serena Hunter opted to paddle V1 rudderless in the Women’s 12km, winning the race. 22112423.

Serena Hunter had the lead through much of the race in the women’s division, opting to paddle V1 rudderless, with Tamsyn Dearlove having a great race on her OC1 enjoying a great surf leg to catchup and cross the finish line in 1.17.29 hours as first master OC1. Hunter was first in open V1 in 1.18.02 hours followed by Tara Cumming 1.25.58 hrs, and NZ’s Inamaru Tere third in 1.42.17 hrs.   

Hunter was stoked with her race, although it had been a hard decision whether to race the OC1 (ruddered) or V1 (rudderless) canoes, knowing there were awesome surf conditions.

“I felt great on the upwind, and felt a lot better than I thought I would on the surf leg. 

“It was pretty big out there near Matavera, and I’m really impressed with the Canadian ladies getting out there and giving it a go especially first time racing in the ocean. 

“It would have been great to have more local ladies on the start line, it’s a good challenge especially having overseas paddlers here to test yourself against,” said Hunter.

New Zealand-based Cook Islander Inamaru Tere said she had never paddled in such weather conditions.

“It was some of the biggest and heartiest conditions I’ve ever paddled in in a V1.

“Made me a bit jealous watching everyone on their OC1’s… but was definitely an unforgettable experience.

“Congratulations to everyone who raced, thank you to the race organisers, thank you to my family and friends for all the support and last but not least - thank you to our Heavenly Father for guiding and blessing us all.”

The gruelling 36km Round Raro Relay Race will be held tomorrow, starting at 8.30am from Avarua harbour. Prizegiving will be held that evening at 6pm.

The results for the Singles Races 12km & 15km are as follows.

Open Men, V1, 15km: 1 Reuben Dearlove 1.29.16, 2 Johno Smith 1.33.20, 3 Tere 1.35.24, 4 Raniera Ellison 1.45.02, 5 Benjamin Raela 1.48.48, 6 Ina Nooroa 1.55.21, 7 Craig Parker 2.00.03; Open Men, OC1, 15km 1 JB Ioaba 1.46.06; Master Men, V1, 12km: 1 Simon Wolfgramme 1.08.24, 2 Jason Ashford 1.15.48; Master Men, OC1, 12km: 1 Conrad Hunter 1.10.45, 2 Damien Beddoes 1.13.22, 3 Josh Mitchell 1.13.36; Senior Master Men, V1, 12km: 1 Phil Ave 1.10.14, 2 Arno Theijssen 1.17.57.

Open Women, OC1 - 12km - 1 Samantha Ellison 1.32.25; Open Women, V1, 12km: 1 Serena Hunter 1.18.02, 2 Tara Cumming 1.25.58, 3 Inamaru Tere 1.42.17; Master Women OC1, 12km: 1 Tamsyn Dearlove 1.17.29, 2 Vesna Radonich 1.25.48, 3 Marie-Andree Jacques 1.33.53; Senior Master Women, OC1, 12km: 1 Cathy Smyth 1.32.46, 2 Isabelle Jacques 2.04.02.

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