Paddle to Tahiti begins with first regatta at Mulinu’u

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GETTING OFF THE BLOCKS: Crowded starts are the norm and local paddlers will have to learn to negotiate their way out of these situations ahead of Tahiti.

GETTING OFF THE BLOCKS: Crowded starts are the norm and local paddlers will have to learn to negotiate their way out of these situations ahead of Tahiti.

The Taula Strong V1 Series kicked off last Saturday in emphatic fashion.

Twenty-seven paddlers from Tautai O.C.C., Laumei O.C.C., Nafanua O.C.C. and Millenia Vaa O.C.C. took to the water at the Mulinu’u Vaa Base Camp for 2017’s inaugural race.

It started 5:30pm and lasted between one hour and 14minutes to two hours. 

There was a 15Km V1 marathon and a 9km half course. 

The 15km distance was for paddlers vying to make Team Samoa who will be heading to Tahiti for the first Long Distance World Championship in June this year.

It was the third trial run and it was a tough race as most paddlers were fresh off the holiday season. The start of the race was full of action when some V1s got too close for comfort after the green flag went up. 

However, crowded starts are the norm come Tahiti so it was ideal preparations for the paddlers.

Starting off strong were Nase Aumua, Tasi Esekia and Elton Petersen who led the pack with a good 1,000 meter dash to the first turning point in front of the Millenia Hotel. 

Then it was a long 7.5km stretch to Vailele for the turn around. Although it was early evening the sun was still burning hot after 6pm thanks to daylight savings and when paddlers passed the Taumeasina Resort, the sting was right on the their faces making the race even tougher.

Arms and legs were getting numb and dehydration setting in with a few paddlers but it seemed to be all good as the best of the best pushed each other right throughout the course. 

Nase Aumua had a comfortable lead of about 600m in front of Esekia at the home stretch to win.

Esera Aumua who is Samoa’s current top paddler did not make the race on Saturday as he only returned from Pago Pago and decided to sit race one out. 

The trials are based on a point system per race and the top six paddlers with the highest points along with consistency in their performances will make the Open Men’s team come 28 April, the dead line for naming Team Samoa for Tahiti.

There were high swells over some reef lines and strong currents are always an obstacle to overcome in our Apia Lagoons but that is all part of the race. 

Anything can happen out there so everyone has to help out by looking out for one another. 

The next race will be on 11 February 2017 with a distance of 18km. 

All races until team selection date will be at 18km in distance and the last race will be a 24km V6 Marathon hosted by the The Taula Strong Team before the national team leaves for Tahiti.

“We invite anyone who is interested in joining our V1 series to check us on our facebook page for updates on our races and race results,” the Club says. 

“All you need is to sign up with a local club to be a member and bring your $20 tala for your race.”

Many paddlers simply enjoy a nice paddle just for the fun of it and for a good body workout to keep the fitness level at par. 

“The Alo Pao Pao Event team will be hosting a V1 and V6 marathon in February as well so you can also go see them down at paddles restaurant for more information.” 

Yes February will be a busy month of paddling. VaaTasiKalapu would like to thank our Major Sponsor – Taula Strong and Taula Beverage Ltd for supporting this year’s V1 Series once again. 

“The sport of paddling is becoming more popular once again with individual local talents paddling at fitness levels higher than ever before. 

And without the support of our Major Sponsors we cannot have these events to keep our sport alive and to be able to look forward to international tournaments where our local paddlers can go to represent country and flag. Bring your strong.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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