Bad weather fails to stop Taula Strong V1 finale

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It looked to be a stormy afternoon with thundering clouds and flashes of lightning scattered above the warm oceans of Upolu. 

But it wasn’t enough to postpone our Taula Strong V1 Series Race # 8. 

It has been a week now since our finale race and yet our paddlers are still training like the season has just only began with two more V6 marathons and one more V1 marathon hosted by the Alo Paopao Event Team. 

There were 25 paddlers who turned up for our final race with 5 of them paddling the half course of 9KM and the remaining paddling the open course that was 17KM. The original course was confirmed for 22KM but due to high swells over the Letogo sandbank the race course was brought forward to avoid the dangerous hidden reefs. 

The start of the race was full of energy as all 25 paddlers boosted it out to the first turning point at the channel in front of the Millenia Hotel. The course then headed down towards Palolo Deep across Taumeasina Resort continuing towards Mapufagalele then exiting out the reef for the final turn on open ocean. 

Temperatures started of mild due to limited overcast with easy winds of only 5KM per hour. The overcast seemed to have disappeared at the turning point and that’s where each paddler had to dig deep and focus on the return stretch with UV rays hitting at 78%.

Esera Aumua, Gase Aumua and Jack Laban held the lead from the start to the half way turn after paddling for 8KM with Tasi Esekia chasing fourth not too far behind. 

Elton Peterson had a good return paddle as he was able to overtake Amanda wheatley and Tasi Esekia only to get a DQ at the end. 

However on the open sea Esera Aumua took a break to harness up his rehydrating kit and after that it was all over as he left everyone behind to gain over 500 meters or more a head of Gase and Jack and the rest of the pack who were all quit a distance behind, well…pretty much history. 

Heading back to the channel before Millenia Hotel it seemed like Esera took another break to wait for his apprentice Gase only to get out witted by him who caught a wave over the channel to get a little advantage. 

They then both sprinted down to the finish line at Mulinuu va’a base camp. Gase Aumua taking out the race over Esera by a narrow finish - winning Race 8 of the V1 Taula Strong 2016 Series. With the rest of the pack coming in it was an exciting watch as Elton Peterson, Tasi Esekia & Jack Laban were all paddling hard to the finish line. 

At this point few V1s took an outside channel that shortens the course by a few hundred meters. They failed to use the channel designated for the race and in turn were all disqualified. In total 8 paddlers got a DQ. Lesson learnt as they now know that you must always stay the course unless pointed out otherwise by the official support boat crew. It was disappointing to have DQs on our last race but for this sport to grow it has to begin with following the rules of the race. All 25 paddlers returned safely with only one casualty. 

One paddler did not escape the high swells along the reef line and lost his V1. He was safely rescued by the support boat along with his va’a and assisted by fellow paddlers during the race. 

Esera Aumua although losing to Gase Aumua in race 8 still holds the 2016 Champion title as his points were too high for anyone to beat. 

The series covered 93KM in a total of 8 races for the year. Amanda Wheatley also raced on the day and is Australia’s Open Women’s V1 Champion. It is great to have her on our races because she is a great paddler along with husband Andy Wheatley who is also a pro-paddler competing in many international events. Andy paddled a surf ski on race 8 and came in first in a time of 1:31:13 followed by Gase at 1:36:57 and Esera at 1:37:15. 

Unfortunately Andy’s time doesn’t count on a V1 race. 

Final results will be announced on our prize giving night at the Millenia Hotel, Tiafau Fale on the 10th of December from 7:00PM. 

Also on the 10th of December the V1 Club will host a V6 marathon as they put together their top 6 paddlers to take on the rest of the canoe clubs of Samoa. It will be from 4PM down at Mulinuu. Details will be sent out to all clubs. All in all the Taula Strong V1 Series has had 46 paddlers participating in this year’s event. 

The V1 Club is very grateful and thankful to Major sponsor Taula Beverage Company for their ongoing support. 

Also to our support boat crew from the Fire & Rescue Services and our race officials. Big congratulations to all V1 & OC1 paddlers who made this year a great success. VaaTasiKalapu    

© Samoa Observer 2016

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