Samoan paddlers 8th place finish at Worlds "surreal"

Team Samoa are still getting over their eighth-place finish in the Open men V6 at the 2019 International Va'a Federation World Distance Championships last Friday.

The result on the Sunshine Coast in Australia was a big improvement on their 2017 performance; a 13th-place-finish.

Two of the 2019 team were on that boat as well, including Jonathan Porter.

He said there wasn't much of a programme in the lead-up to the 2017 championships, and weekly time trials were key to the improvement.

“Having consistent events on the island gives us more time on the water," he said.

Porter said it was surreal to finish so highly, coming in just behind the likes of California (2017 silver medallists) and Australia.

“We came with the realistic expectation of just reaching the top 10. We looked at the calibre of the paddlers and the teams that were participating."

Team Samoa outperformed expectations through continuity, with four of the team that came fifth in the Pacific Games competing again; Elton Petersen, Porter, Siala Lova and Afele Tupu Fua.

Porter said the additions of Andy Wheatley and Tavita Maea from Hawai'i brought a lot of experience to the team as well.

He said it was more fun than the Pacific Games campaign, being away from some of the background noise in Samoa.

“There wasn’t too much pressure on us, we just enjoyed the buildup to this one, more relaxed atmosphere.

“We stayed really cool during the race, I think it was one of the most enjoyable. Hard, but enjoyable, it was that kind of paddle."

The team all paid their own way for the trip, with junior paddler Afele Tupu Fua being assisted by the Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association (S.O.C.A.).

Porter said they hope to build momentum towards the 2021 Worlds in Samoa by attending more top level events, however that requires sponsorship and money.

“That’s the hard thing in Samoa, where you’re competing for sponsorship with rugby and a lot of the other sports. 

"To send an actual six-man team to these consistent events, it’ll be a hard ask but that’s the dream at the moment."

In other results from the 2019 World Distance Championships, Afele Tupu Fua finished eighth in the J19 V1 category, Siala Lova finished 12th in the Open men V1 category and Billy Peters finished 15th in the Master 40 V1 category.

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