Female paddlers set for Takapuna Beach Cup debut

Thursday February 13, 2020 Written by Published in Paddling
 The all women’s paddling crew are ready to take on the Takapuna Beach 42km race. 20021225 The all women’s paddling crew are ready to take on the Takapuna Beach 42km race. 20021225

For the first time, 10 Cook Islands female paddlers – from a teenager to a mother in her fit fifties – will compete at the Takapuna Beach Cup 42km Race in New Zealand.


The youngest member 17-year-old Eryka Tommy is excited about her first overseas trip competing in the sport.

An avid paddler, Tommy competed in the Vaka Eiva Under 16 races last year, and was familiar with how tough the training schedules could be.

When offered a position with the group she accepted, determined to face the challenges and try something new.

“But at times I did find it a bit intimidating and challenging, training with women who had way more experience,” Tommy said.

Paddling is a sport Tommy has come to love, “it’s a team effort, not just about you and I love being out on the water.”

The toughest part of keeping fit for the race was sticking to the food plan, she said.

“I just love my junk food, so that would have been the hardest for me.”

Tommy is set for the race and is focused on her team achieving a good placing and enjoying more paddling experience.

In her early fifties, mother of three Mylan Lane, is the eldest in the squad and is participating in the event for the first time.

Lane said training with the crew has been exciting, “especially with Serena Hunter who is an elite paddler. She is a great coach and mentor for our team.”

At each training session, they supported each other in the canoe, said Lane.

She added they focused physically and mentally to remain positive under gruelling conditions.

“It is going to be an amazing race with the team, I am mentally ready for this event, looking forward to give it 100 per cent and to stay humble and positive.”

The women started an intense five week regimen of solid training since January.

Captained and coached by master paddler Serena Hunter, the group comprises of 10 paddlers from both Te Tupu o Te Manava and Ngakau Toa Vaka clubs.

Hunter said: “We have put in some good hard paddling sessions, so I am confident of my crew, and I know they’ll all give 100 per cent on the day.”

Only a few of the members have participated in the Takapuna race before so it’s a new experience for most of them who are looking to paddle hard and do their best in New Zealand.

“Logistically it can be challenging getting a crew together for an overseas race. We lost a couple of paddlers at the start due to work/personal reasons, but have managed to get 10 solid paddlers and everyone on the crew is very keen and very committed,” Hunter said.

“There is a lot of experience in the crew, so the main thing has been to get the blending and best combinations.

“Everyone has worked hard, so I just want everyone to give it their 110 per cent on the day.”

Hunter knows there will be some very stiff competition at Takapuna, “so it will be good for the team to put themselves out there and see how they go.”

Her goal is to take a crew or two to the World Long Distance Championships in Samoa next year.

The national paddlers will compete in the open women’s division.

The crew include Serena Hunter, Tina Mitchell, Emilene Taulu, Vaea Melvin, Tara Cummings, Joyce Fortes, Eryka Tommy, Samantha Puati-Ellison, Teretahiti Isaaka and Mylan Lane.

Commitment from Lotu Vea, Natalie Kainoa, and Teina Taulu who have joined in on training sessions to help make up two full V6 canoes, has been acknowledged by the team.

The crew departed for New Zealand on Wednesday.

The main 42km event of the Beach Cup, which gets underway tomorrow, will start from Takapuna Beach, heading out around Rangitoto and Rakino Islands and back.

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