Men paddling in a va'a race

Double gold joy for Tahiti on day three of va’a

004A0927 | February 24, 2024
Tahiti won gold in both the women’s and men’s V6-1500m. Photos: Brian Hagi, Pacific Games News Service

Tahiti scooped double gold in the men’s and women’s V6-1500m at DC Park on Wednesday, continuing their dominance in va’a events at the Sol2023 Pacific Games.

V6-1500m consists of six paddlers racing six laps of 250m to cover a distance of 1500m.

It was an exhausting race for the paddlers, toiling against the light breeze and rising current in a tense search for medals.

Wallis and Futuna, Tahiti, Fiji, and Solomon Islands contested the men’s race.

Tahiti and Wallis and Futuna maintained the lead in the first lap, with Fiji and Solomon Islands following behind. However, in the second last lap, Tahiti put up a strong effort until the end, finishing in 8 minutes and 7 seconds to claim the gold medal. Wallis and Futuna were just eight seconds behind, claiming the silver medal in 8 minutes and 15 seconds.

The battle for bronze was separated by just four seconds between Solomon Islands and Fiji, but a push at the finish line saw Fiji narrowly claim bronze in 8 minutes and 29 seconds.

The women’s V6-1500m was a tough race but Tahiti maintained a continuous lead, claiming gold in 9 minutes and 52 seconds. Cook Islands and Fiji, battling for silver, finished just six seconds apart, and it was Fiji who claimed it in 10 minutes and 3 seconds, leaving Cook Islands to settle for bronze in 10 minutes and 9 seconds.

Tahiti V6-1500m women’s team captain Leilanie Teua said: “I am very proud of my team, my younger team because, we are from different clubs but, through unity, we won.

“This is a very big experience for me, because this is my first time as a team captain and I am really proud of myself.”

Meanwhile, Duane Reiher, Fiji’s va’a head coach said: “We got a bronze today, so we were very happy with the outcome of the race.

“We had some tiredness issues in the morning due to the heat, but managed to get through to the semi-final and the final and kept improving on our times, so I am very happy about that. They learned from their mistakes in each of the races and improved a bit in every race.”

Duane noted: “It was a challenge putting this team together, three of our guys come from the west side of the island of Viti-Levu, the other three come from the south-east side of the island, so it was very hard to get together to train. The fact that we have come here and bagged a medal, we are really happy that we were able to achieve that’.

He concluded: “We are really hoping and looking forward for a good result for men and women in the V1-16km”.

Va’a will continue on Thursday with the V1-16-kilometre marathon race and will conclude on Friday at DC Park. Entry is free.

By Elron Dokese, Pacific Games News Service

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