Jan – Jericho
Monday morning we wake up to a cool (22) and windy day. It stayed overcast for most of the day – good for racing but worked it’s way up to about 26.
Due to the small number of canoes, there are multiple iron races organized by groups: men’s masters, senior masters and under 19s, then women’s masters, senior masters and under 19s, then the mixed crews. These races were all 12 km. While by age, we could have raced masters, we choose to race the 18km open race. When you have come this far, you might as well make the most of it.
It was a tough race. Winds were from the north east so the waves were ama side for the first half of the race, intonthe headwind and you also have the ocean swells pushing you around. Waves were 6-7 feet with the occasional 8-10 footer to climb. Coming back, we got to do some surfing but not in the nice sets as we were hoping for. The runs were faster by the reef but you can’t paddle too close as you get sucked right on to the reef. The locals really know how to use this to their advantage. For the first time, a Cook Island women’s team won, beating the strong Aussies and kiwis. We came in 11th and 12th, very happy to finish, stay upright, and beat a few other crews. Best of all, at the finish line – local kids are swimming in the water. They are cheering, then climbing all over the canoe, pushing us in and generally making for a fantastic welcoming committee!
There was one bad incident during the race. The men and women’s open crews raced together. About 4 km from the finish, one of the men’s crews hit the reef. Their ama broke and the paddlers got tossed out of the canoe. Most got away with a few scrapes and bruises but one paddler was beaten up pretty badly. They started to treat him at the first aid site but had to take him to hospital. We believe he is ok but haven’t had any status updates.
The day ended with an 8km fun mixed race. Paddlers from different crews jumped into canoes. The water was calmer and the race was on. With the shorter course, it was a much tighter race with lots of fun battles. An almost all Canadian crew chased a crew with Nappy steering all the way, but had to let the Hawaiian take them at the finish!
Tuesday is a rest day for us, with race for juniors in the lagoon. We will be heading up to do some cheering, while stretching out tired bodies in prep for Wednesday’s Round Rarotonga Change race….