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Top gun challenges local paddlers

Friday May 22, 2015 Written by Published in Paddling
Gun Tahiti paddler Raunui Makiroto. Gun Tahiti paddler Raunui Makiroto.

Local paddlers preparing for the Pacific Games in July will have their skills tested at this weekend’s Te Aito Cook Islands race starting at 2pm from Avarua harbour. 

The return of the premier singles race, which took a break last year due to clashes with a number of international paddling events, has attracted top paddlers from Tahiti.

Gun Tahiti paddler Raunui Makiroto is sure to give local paddlers a great battle on the water.

He is returning to Rarotonga after being part of Tahiti oe vaka team Paea Va’a at last year’s Vaka Eiva Festival, where he said how impressed he was with the water conditions and island hospitality.

On this return trip, he has brought a couple of paddling friends to really add spice to Te Aito Cook Islands. 

Their entrance in Te Aito Cook Islands is being seen as a great opportunity for local paddlers to pit themselves against the talented paddlers and gauge how much more work they need to do before the Pacific Games.

For toa vaine paddlers, the course is a 14km circuit of the iconic northern coastline of Rarotonga.  

For the men, it’s two laps of a similar circuit, a gruelling 24km course in all, with the race times still to be confirmed. 

The islands fittest elite female athlete, Serena Hunter, will be pegged to win the women’s 14km race in which she will be compete against her fellow Pacific Games squad members.  

This will be her final training event before going to compete in the prestigious Molokai Kaiwi channel Solo 62.76km race in Hawaii in June.

Past open male placegetters and competitors in Te Aito Cook Islands have included local champions Reuben Dearlove (1st 2010, 2011, 2012, 2nd 2013), Tupuna Amo 3rd 2011 , Andre Tutaka George 3rd 2012, 2013 and international champions are Heiva Amo Teheiura, Taaroaiti Tahiti and Steve Hart of Tahiti and Kingi Gilbert of New Zealand. 

The ultimate prizes for the local male and female open winners are return tickets to Aito Tahiti in July, sponsored by Air Tahiti.

Rauinui Makiroto of Tahiti will be tough to beat on the water as he has an impressive resume of paddling success under his belt.

In 2002 he won the famous Molokai and was third and fourth in the same race in 2014 and 2015 respectively. 

In 2004 he won Hawaiki Nui with team Rai  coached by Tahiti’s renowned oe vaka coach Lewis Laughlin, who has family ties to the Pittman family of Rarotonga and is hopefully visiting in June to run coaching clinics for local youth paddlers. 

In 2005 Raunui was a member of the world famous Shell Va’a team which placed first in all races on the Tahitian circuit and in 2014 at the world sprints in Rio he placed first in all V6 and V12 races. 

He has been to Vaka Eiva in 2012 and again last year in which he placed second in the V1 Open men’s race and first in the Round Raro relay with his team Paea Va’a.

“A main drawcard for our Te Aito Cook Islands entrants is the cash and other fantastic prizes,” says Cook Islands Canoeing Association events manager Chrissy Thomas.

Cash and prizes have been kindly sponsored by by Air Tahiti, Viper Va’a, Koka Lagoon Cruises, Aquaflow Water Solutions, Telecom Cook Islands, Ride Rarotonga, KiteSUP, The Islander Hotel and Maoro Massage.

The running of the prestigious singles race has also been made possible thanks to the support of main sponsors Trader Jacks, Salt Films, Hori Signs, Akura Charters, Islands Craft, Varo Media and CI News. 

All Te Aito competitors and supporters will also be looking forward to the great wrap-up party at Trader Jacks on Saturday night following the races, for the special Pacific Paella Buffet with beachfront performance and live entertainment. 

CICA invites you all to come and support our Te Aito Event night at Trader Jacks by purchasing a ticket for the Pacific Paella Buffet and live entertainment for only $49. Call Chrissy Thomas on 55092 or Trader Jacks on 26464 to reserve your ticket.  

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