Last Saturday 13th September saw the final sprint regatta for the 2014 Fiji Outrigger season take place at the National Canoe Centre along Queen Elizabeth Drive in Suva. With beautiful blue skies and a gentle breeze the conditions were great for the paddlers and this fourth and final regatta recorded the biggest turnout of the season with over 120 paddlers taking part. It was great to see the big numbers in the Juniors divisions with around 50 paddlers aged 12 to 19 taking part, while in the opens divisions paddlers over 50 years old competed alongside the 20 and 30 somethings…this just goes to show that paddling can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age.
When it came down to the results, there were some familiar names leading their divisions. The Mens V1 race featured the same outcome as the last regatta, with Fred Leota of Walu Va’a taking first place and Gary Volau and Johji Wong of Taf’aga in second and third place respectively. In the Womens V1, Krystelle Whippy of Taf’aga upset teammate and favourite Theresa Avon to take first place, with Pauline Benson of Kaiwai in third. The junior V1 races featured wins for Lauryn Inia (Taf’aga) and Taine Reiher (Takia) in the under 14s division, Elenoa Vateitei and Tomasi Andrea from Takia (under 16s) and Sylvia Hesaie and Apisai Kalou of Taf’aga (under 19s).
In the V6 races, Taf’aga canoe club completed a clean sweep of the mens and womens open division 500m and 1500m sprint races while Kaiwai and Walu Va’a took second and third respectively in the mens and Takia and Kaiwai were second and third in the womens. The result means that the Taf’aga mens team become Fiji Outrigger Sprint Champions for the 5th season in a row, while the Taf’aga women take their first ever sprint championship. In the Junior divisions, Takia canoe club again dominated with wins in the Under 19 Boys and Under 16 Girls divisions, with Kaiwai and Tafaga taking second place respectively.
The sprint season is now concluded but racing continues with a special regatta for Junior paddlers (10 to 19 years old) on the 27th September and the Uprising Changeover race scheduled for November.