Read all about the girls’ races at the Vaka Eiva in Cook Islands!

Open Crew: Steph, Lucy, Lisa, Amanda, Kylie, Dani
  • Conditions: Humid, mostly sunny, small swell.
  • Lined up next to the strong Tahitian crew and Team Gurlfriend from Sydney. We had a great start in our tippy Roc canoe.
  • Hard going coping with the humidity for the first 9km of race to the turning buoy, but hold our own.
  • Could hear drumming of locals on the beach as we are coming up to turning buoy.
  • Almost took the heads off two water cameraman whilst doing the turn.
  • Relief as we hit a cool breeze on our return run, which felt like the start of a new race and the crew lifted.
  • Pulled in a crew ahead, whilst being hunted down by crews from behind.
  • A fantastic lift to the end, with a surge to the finish line, opening up a bigger gap between us and the trailing 5 crews.
  • Being cheered in by everyone at Trader Jacks, which is a bar/restaurant at the finish line.
  • Finished in 10th place in a time of 1:37:06.

Masters Crew: Tara, Margaret, Mandy, Paul (Kylie’s husband), Trevor from Northern Beaches and Sully from Hawaii.
  • Conditions: similar to 18km.
  • Drama starts…… as crew is heading to the start line they notice that the ama is hanging on by a thread. Trevor jumped into the water to hold it on and Tara signalled to the start boat.
  • Start boat came over and on seeing the extent of the problem a marshal jumped into the water with rubbers to help Trevor reattach the ama.
  • Start boat told crew they have 2 minutes, then the race would start with or without them.

  • Trevor jumped back into the canoe and they started to move towards the start line with the marshal underwater trying to finish attaching ama.
  • Relief all round when they manage to make the start and race follows on uneventfully (in comparison to getting to the start!).
  • Finished in 13th place in a time of 1:08:20.

  • Started with a ceremonial welcome walk down the beach.
  • Low tide in Muri Lagoon, expect sprints to be hard-going in the shallows, something like paddling in cement (we’re sure you can imagine!).
  • Open Heat: Crew have a good run, with a blinder of a turn, came home in 3rd place.
  • Masters Heat: Tide had gotten lower so crew have to walk boat to turn it around to the start line. Have an amazing start and power down the straight head to head with other crews. Have a shocker of a turn and come out in last place. Crew turns on the power to take it back up to the other crews to finish in 2nd place.
  • Lisa very happy that she managed to avoid first time Vaka Eiva paddler initiation with one game including having to remove an undergarment. She is still paying off Amanda for ensuring she was conveniently at the turning buoys and not on the beach, however, there is photographic evidence of Lisa’s water dancing if anyone is interested.
  • Participated in the fly the ama competition. Both crews managed to fly it, for a couple of seconds anyway before flipping the canoe, with poor Dani coming off second best by taking a knock to the back of the head on the iaku, blood everywhere – only kidding, it was only a little bit.
  • Amanda, Lisa and Mandy stood in the water for almost 2 hours, coping with a fast rising tide, the cold weather, the hot weather, a mini-squall and attacking fish for the sake of getting photos of teams turning around the buoys…. Just happened to be in the lane with the semi-naked Hawaiian crew…. which made it all worth it!

  • Conditions: Humid, mostly sunny, small swell
  • Not the best start, dropped to the back of the pack but managed to hold a position amongst other crews.
  • Good changeovers, only 1 where the girls had to swim for the boat when they were dropped off without Steph seeing.
  • Skimmed the reef all the way around the island – a particularly close changeover had a few “paddle, paddle, paddle” calls as the canoe lifted over the swell.
  • Support boat followed the finish crew all the way across the finish line so the other girls could cheer them on.
  • Coconut juice at the end of the race – yum – that and the slab of chocolate cake they were selling as a slice.
  • Finished in a time of 3:19:07, being the first Australian Open Women’s crew across the line. OK, so it was also last place, but all in good spirits as amazing just to be in the Cook Islands paddling with crews of such high calibre.

By Lisa Green and Amanda Wyllie