Nine excited paddlers (and a hubbie) from Pacific Dragons, Mollymook, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney and Northern Beaches clubs headed off to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in mid November to paddle at Vaka Eiva 2008, 6 who had already been to the event before and 4 looking forward to a new adventure.

Here are the general highlights, with race event highlights to follow separately:
  • Managing to get 400kg of luggage over to the Cook Islands, I know what you are thinking, typical girls, but we swear it was mostly for the charity!
  • The fantastic accommodation and weather, we mostly had sun every day.
  • The welcoming, friendly nature of the locals and their passion for paddling.
  • Experiencing such a well run, fun, relaxed regatta where you get to truly experience the spiritual and traditional side of our sport.
  • The looks on the faces of the aunties from the Hospital Comforts Society when they saw our donation of clothes, toys, crutches etc, most especially when they were presented with the cheque for NZD$3,000 by Steph.
  • Being presented with Ei’s (flower head wreaths) by the aunties from Hospital Comforts in appreciation of the donation.
  • 3 hour cross island walk for Amanda, Lisa, Dani and Lucy.
  • Relief and time to party for Lisa after finishing her uni exam on the island.
  • The snorkelling in warm crystal clear water during which we were attacked by cranky Trigger fish (which Amanda discovered is best handled by throwing non contact punches at them)and teeth baring eels, tropical fish nurseries, a flat flounder disguised as sand, beautiful blue starfish, butterfly fish that follow you like puppies and a turtle.
  • Witnessing the amazing shopping prowess of Tara, Kylie and Steph. We believe they have shored up the local economy for at least the next 3-6 months.
  • The Raro roosters – don’t believe for a minute that roosters only crow at sunrise…. but they were mighty fine looking roosters and chooks due to their healthy lifestyle – see below.
  • Some of the crew putting their city driving skills to the test on the local roads and all of us living to tell the tale (the 50km speed limit was quite fluid with some of the drivers – 50km….70km – same, same).
  • Viewing, and some buying, art done on traditional style paddles by local artists. They’re hoping to open the exhibition up to other countries to design paddles and bring them to the event. 10% of the sale of the paddles goes towards the wwwelopment of their junior paddlers.
  • For Amanda, Lisa and Mandy, getting to paddle with a local crew at Aitutaki.
  • The divine food on Aitutaki including fresh paw paw, bananas, passionfruit…. but no mangoes even though there were plenty around, as they were being enjoyed by the local chickens and roosters much to Amanda’s disgust, as she couldn’t get her hands on a ripe one.
  • Our after sprint race beach party where it was discovered that it is possible to make beautiful sand angels under the influence of Steinlager (although we have decided it is best that a skirt is not worn whilst doing so), and that bamboo is not the best material for pole dancing…. all photographic evidence has been destroyed….
  • Fantastic closing party. Our crew pulled out their best dance moves and some of the girls turned the car boot into a bar…. who would have thought drinking almost straight Pimms and Lemoncello could taste so good!
If you are interested in participating in this or other international outrigging events, make sure you flag your interest with Todd, Annette or Linda so they can let you know when events are coming up.

By Lisa Green and Amanda Wyllie