Race 7 of the Taula Strong V1 Series 2016 was last Saturday.
Conditions were forecasted to be very good despite the few thunder storms in the morning. The winds were blowing at 17 KM/hour and the day looked promising for a 21KM downwind paddle on your single canoe built for racing on the ocean.
The direction of the winds had changed from a more SE direction to ESE direction that made the conditions more perfect for this long gruelling paddle. And given the course of the race it was a Blessing from above, without a doubt.
Truly it was not a paddle many in Samoa could do but for a very few the challenge was one that could not be refused.
The race began from LeUaina Beach Resort at Faleapuna (Beach Start) heading out the reef with the first AMA side turn around one of the support boats about 100 meters from the reef line. Then to paddle your heart out straight down to Apia Mulinuu Va’a Base Camp for the FINISH. It was hot with UV levels hitting our heads at almost 80%. The wind was behind us so your face can’t get the breeze to keep you from overheating and if you did not have enough water on your V1 then you are in trouble.
But thanks to our support crew leading the challenge from start to finish on three support boats we paddled between 2hours and 3hours safely without anyone getting injured or hurt.
But make NO mistake the Challenge was not easy. So if you think you want in on the next Taula Strong V1 Challenge only one thing can be asked of you. That is to train and train hard. But first you will need a V1 or OC1, a hat, bottle of sunscreen, sunglasses, 3 big bottles of water, bailer, and don’t forget to buy a paddle. You’ll find it quit difficult to paddle a canoe without one.
In total there were fifteen paddlers. Twelve paddlers paddled on a V1 (without rudder) and three paddled on OC1 (with rudder). On windy conditions I recommend to anyone to paddle on an OC1 as it is easier to manage without drifting too far out to sea or too far in to the reef.
Your va’a goes where your feet tells it to go. On a V1 you have to steer with your paddle in hand and that takes time to learn especially open ocean V1 paddling on windy days.
Nevertheless you still need to be as fit as you can be and for any distance over the 15KM mark.
Why do we do it? This question can be answered in so many ways from health reasons to simply just being on the ocean and enjoying the company of other paddlers. My reason – it’s the adrenaline when you are paddling on open ocean that keeps me going and loving this sport, especially on windy conditions - downwind that is.
And I am pretty sure it is like that for many others I paddle with. After about 1H:59M our first paddler crossed the finish line followed by the rest about a good ten minutes later. Yes she won the race under two hours. Wait a minute, did I say she? I very well did. The winner for this race is Amanda Wheatley.
Amanda is an Aussie who trains very hard twice a day doing 18KM to 20KM a session. If that is not hard training, I don’t know what is. Our local champ Esera Aumua will surely give Amanda a good run next race as this local talent has won every race so far this year.
He did suffer from a large boil on his left leg on this race and he had to stop a few times but still managed to recover and come in at second place after Amanda followed by his younger apprentice Gase Aumua.
This year a total of 40 paddlers on V1/OC1s have entered our series and that number could increase for our race 8. The results are posted on our facebook page – Va’a Tasi Kalapu (VTK). If you are interested in paddling V1s then you can head down to Mulinuu Va’a Base and ask for Elton Petersen or Jonathan Porter or go see Jay Schuster if you want to buy one at the Ocean Headquarters.
Furthermore, the VTK would like to thank our Major Sponsor TAULA BEVERAGE and Enele Westerlund for their ongoing support for the sport of paddling in terms of prizes and beverages. Without their sponsorship we would not have been able to get any support boats for this last event. And without support boats open ocean races cannot happen.
Also would like to thank Millenia Hotel for the Venue for our prize giving along with food catering. Our next race will be posted on facebook and sent out via email. It will be in November 2016. These V1 races is to prepare and help Team Samoa for the first ever Long Distance World Championship that will be held in Tahiti June 2017. Keep the Spirit of Va’a Alive!