Lone Stand Up (S.U.P.) paddler, Kevin Hadfield, joined local and international outrigger va’a teams in the Alo Paopao Sheraton to Sheraton regatta last weekend.
Hadfield is a local paddler and an S.U.P. enthusiast. He joined other paddlers in taking part in the 33km race that stretched from the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows in Apia to Sheraton Beach Resort, Mulifanua.
It is the first time in the annual event that a S.U.P. paddler has attempted the challenge. Hadfield completed the distance in 4 hours and 41 minutes.
“Last year I participated as a member of Nafanua’s open men’s team,” said Hadfield.
“It was a memorable experience but I wanted to raise the ante and challenge for 2018 so I decided that I would S.U.P. the distance instead.”
Asked whether he felt apprehensive about competing in such a demanding race, Hadfield said: “I have S.U.P. paddled in various locations around Upolu and Savai’i for almost three years so I was confident in my ability to complete the race although, admittedly, at 33km it was my longest paddle to date.”
As with long distance racing of any kind held in Samoa overcoming the heat can be a real challenge.
“The water was very flat which made standing on the board easier but there was virtually no wind assistance and the heat got to me at around the 27km mark,” Hadfield said.
“But thankfully, I pushed through to the end.”
“The waters and climate in Samoa are ideal for S.U.P. so there is real potential for growth of the sport here.”
“S.U.P. is a great workout for the whole body so there are health benefits to picking up the sport.”
From a tourism perspective, Hadfield believes S.U.P. could add another dimension to what Samoa has to offer.
“S.U.P. tourism is a growing industry overseas so there is an opportunity for Samoa to offer the same activity for tourists who visit or for S.U.P. paddlers who want to race here.”
He is grateful to Alo Paopao Chairman and event organiser, Ulugia Jay Ah Fook, who welcomed the addition of a S.U.P. category to Sheraton to Sheraton regatta.
“Hopefully we can attract more participants next year or even consider S.U.P. relays to break up the 33km race,” said Kevin.
The event was sponsored by Vailima Breweries, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Pacific Forum line, Naydith events Hirage, Loaded and M&J Ah Fook.