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Paddlers Producing Good Results for the World Champs in Samoa

Tuesday 18 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Paddling, Sports


Paddlers Producing Good Results for the World Champs in Samoa
Winner of the men’s singles Andre Tutaka George, and Reuben Dearlove. TORU NOOROA/23071705

Te Tupu O Te Manava paddlers Andre Tutaka George and Serena Hunter took out the Cook Islands Canoeing Association (CICA) national singles championships over the weekend in a hotly contested 18k race from Avana harbour to the Arorangi jetty.

Good challenging conditions saw paddlers with a surf leg from Avana, flattening out towards Trader Jacks, a choppy swell around the seawall and into some good headwind and waves for the final leg to the jetty.

Eighteen paddlers took to the starting line in Avana for the 18k, with some doing the distance for the first time. 

Andre Tutaka George had a great battle at the front of the pack with veteran champ Reuben Dearlove. 

Tutaka George held a lead of some 600m at the halfway mark, with Dearlove milking the chop at Avatiu and around the seawall to close the gap and battle hard in the upwind to the finish line with only 13 seconds separating the two. 

He finished in 1.30.27 with Dearlove the first master male in 1.30.40. 

Visiting New Zealand paddler Julius Petersen was third over the line - 1st in the open men’s in 1.33.15, with Damien Heather who has had a smashing season coming in 2nd place for the open men’s in 1.35.55, and Pomare Pittman 3rd  in 1.37.55.

Worlds squad paddlers Raniera Ellison, Aurora Mataora (AJ), Ben Raela and Teava Hunter rounded off the open men’s division with little over a minute separating the four.  

Arno Theijssen took out the second master male in 1.44.47 with Richard Denny coming out of the woodwork to race placing third in the masters in 1.53.18.

 The women’s race was a bit clearer cut with veteran paddler Serena Hunter remaining unbeaten to take the title in 1.45.36.

Ngakau Toa Vaka paddlers Talissa Koteka and Ana File Heather took  2nd and 3rd v1 in 1.54.45 and 1.55.05 both their first race of the distance, with Tara Cumming and Joyce Fortes rounding off the v1 division in 2.03.40 and 2.08.40.  

Te Tupu’s Samantha Ellison put in a solid performance on her oc1 with a sprint finish with Ana finishing in 1.55.04, and Tina Mitchell oc1 master coming in at a time of 2.02.20.

A short course option of 12k from the Boiler – Outpatients - Arorangi jetty saw J16 paddler Deedee Akava take line honours in 1.14.37 on v1, with Kelly Pick leading the ladies oc1 in a time of 1.16.08, and Sheeny Teariki in 1.29.13.

The only junior female paddler Aleida Tere was the 3rd female across the line on her v1 in a good time of 1.30.23, with Tahiti Isaaka and Anna Glassie rounding off the ladies in 1.35.05 and 12.44.40.

The paddlers put in a great effort producing good results, putting the worlds squad paddlers in good stead for their upcoming efforts in Samoa in three weeks’ time for the 2023 International Va'a Federation (IVF) World Long Distance Championships.

This is the first time the country will be represented in the Open men and women’s teams at the Worlds.


Singles Nationals held on Saturday are: Open men v1 18k: 1st Andre Tutaka George 1.30.27 (Intnl) Julius Petersen 1.33.15, 2nd  Damien Heather 1.35.55, 3rd Pomare Pittman 1.37.55, 4th Raniera Ellison 1.39.31, 5th AJ 1.40.15, 6th Ben Raela 1.40.27, 7th Teava Hunter 1.40.48. Master Men v1 18k: 1st Reuben Dearlove 1.30.40, 2nd Arno Theijssen 1.44.47, 3rd Richard Denny 1.53.18.

Open women v1 18k: 1st Serena Hunter 1.45.36, 2nd Talissa Koteka 1.54.4, 3rd Ana File Heather 1.55.05, 4th Tara Cumming 2.03.27, 5th Joyce Fortes 2.08.40. Open women oc1 18k Samantha Ellison 1.55.04,  Master women oc1 18k Tina Mitchell 2.02.20, J16 men 12k v1 Deedee Akava 1.14.37, Master Women 12k oc1 1st Kelly Pick 1.16.08, 2nd Sheeny Teariki 1.29.13, 3rd Tahiti Isaaka 1.35.05, 4th Anna Glassie 1.44.40,  J16 women v1 12k Aleida Tere 1.30.23, Master men v1 12k Roly Rolleston 1.49.44.