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Paddlers battle to an exciting finish

Tuesday June 11, 2019 Written by Published in Paddling
From left, winning paddlers Ioana Puna, Otea Tommy, Serena Hunter and Bryce Irving. 19061029 From left, winning paddlers Ioana Puna, Otea Tommy, Serena Hunter and Bryce Irving. 19061029

Fifteen paddlers took to the water on Saturday for the second to last race of the singles season, which saw some exciting battles on the water.


Conditions were warm and overcast with a 15 kilometre north easterly and swells creating a good challenge for the paddlers.

The race course saw paddlers compete over a two lap circuit up from the Boiler to Club Raro, down to Avatiu and return.

At the front of the pack open men’s paddler Otea Tommy paddling a surfski battled it out with masters champion Bryce Irving in a V1, with Tommy eventually winning by a small margin coming in 1.12.15 hours with Irving less than half a minute behind.  

Irving has had an awesome year winning the New Zealand Masters National Long Distance Champs in April securing his spot to represent New Zealand at the IVF World Long Distance Championships in Australia in August. He has been training hard for the upcoming event.

It was also pleasing to see Rshart Henry pushing the local open men’s champion Andre Tutaka-George for most of the race coming in less than a minute behind Tutaka-George. Both paddlers are training for the Pacific Games, with Tutaka-George heading to the regional event as the singles rep.

Pacific Games paddlers Teava Hunter, Tupuna Amo and John Beasley smashed it out in a V3 as part of their games training in a time of 1.13.28 hours.

The women also had an exciting race with local champion Serena Hunter being challenged by the up and coming open women’s paddler Ioana Puna.

Puna has been putting in the hard yards training for the singles distance race at the Pacific Games next month and proved on Saturday that she is on track to do well.

She led the race most of the way with Hunter putting in a push in the last 4km to take the win in a time of 1.26.09 hours followed by Puna on 1.28.04 hours. Joyce Fortes rounded off the top three in a time of 1.38.04 hrs with Tina Mitchell fronting up for the race without much training behind her to finish in a creditable 1.41.24 hrs.

A big meitaki ma’ata to Koka Lagoon Cruises for providing cash incentive prizes for the winners which went to Tommy for first overall over the line, Irving for first V1, and Hunter passed her prize onto Puna for her impressive effort in the race.

All in all it was a good race day and with the added bonus of the circuit including a section in front of Traders, was spectator friendly as well. This sets the scene for some exciting racing in the Nationals singles race in two weeks’ time on Saturday, June 22 where paddlers will vie for the top title and prizes.



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