Anne Cairns secures silver medal for women’s V1 marathon

Anne Cairns will be up on the podium again this afternoon only on the other side, with her silver medal for her 16 kilometre marathon race in Mulifanua.

Cairns, a fulltime firefighter with roots in Nofoalii and Salamumu was chasing Elenoa Vateitei from Fiji for the whole first lap of the race before finally making her break for second place behind Tahiti’s Maguerite Temaiana.

It is her second medal of the Pacific Games, after a bronze win in the women’s V1 500 metre sprint race on Wednesday.

“I am so, so happy I managed to get passed her and I am happy with my race. I couldn’t have done anything more,” Cairns said. 16kms is the longest race she has done in a rudderless paopao (outrigger canoe), she added.

“It’s brutal, that distance. But knowing you’re trying to chase someone and you’re in the run to go for silver rather than bronze, there is pressure on yourself, though it’s only from yourself.”

Cairn’s father, Lawrie Cairns was on the support boat alongside her teammates and coach Ulugia Jay Schuster. Teammate Moana Schreckenberg said he excitedly kept an eye on Fiji’s distance, keeping Cairns up to date.

The break to overtake Fiji finally came in the second lap, Cairns said.

“On the upwind I figured I would try and make a move on her, and I had a wider line so I kept pegging her back and by the time we hit the top turning buoy we were together,” she said.

“I guess I set myself up for quite a wide turn and then got her on the turn down and then really put a burst on for the first 50-100 metres of that downwind to try and put a gap on her and kept pushing it out. 

“I didn’t want to look back but yelled to the support boat to ask where she was and they said she was about 150 metres away,” said Cairns. By then, she was starting to “empty the tank,” but continued pushing forward in an effort to catch up with Tahiti who had begun to fall back.

Cairns said long distance paddling is about being smart and not burning out before the first lap is over. She suspects Fiji’s paddler may have tired herself out.

But the race, and the Pacific Games have been an unforgettable experience, she said.

“Thanks to all my teammates for the support they gave today and in the days leading up to it.

“Big thanks to my family and to my coaches and managers, for giving me the opportunity to come and be part of it. It’s unforgettable,” Cairns said.

Coach Ulugia said the moment Cairns overtook Vaiteitei, the support boat erupted into chees and whistles. 

“She was so determined,” he said.

“She set a goal to make a run for that last mark and watching, it was pretty close. 

“For her to take that chance was pretty bold, but it worked to her advantage being on the outside. She was in really challenging conditions and to see that was really inspiring for all the rest of us.”

Ulugia said the team will be looking out for more talent after a successful Pacific Games so far, with a medal a day for the women’s side.

They will also be investing in their young paddlers, Jessie Lourdes Tupu and Sula Schuster.

“They’ve got good physique for these races, they are young and light.”

The men’s single’s marathon race has begun, and Samoa’s is out on the water beginning his

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