Tahiti and New Caledonia snatched Sol2023 Pacific Games gold in the men’s and women’s V6-500m va’a races respectively in two hard-fought contests at DC Park on Tuesday.
V6 features six paddlers in a va’a boat.
It was a quiet and exciting atmosphere as the ten participating countries toiled on the sea for the top three medals.
First up was the men’s V6-500m, where the ever-strong Tahiti scooped gold in 1 minute and 41 seconds, followed by Wallis and Futuna just an inhale of a second behind in silver place. New Caledonia got bronze, finishing one second behind Wallis and Futuna in 1 minute, 43 seconds.
The women’s V6-500m race was an equally tough contest, with the medal-winning times again being just seconds apart. It was New Caledonia that crossed the line first in 2 minutes, claiming gold. Wallis and Futuna were just behind, collecting silver. For bronze, Fiji put up a great race, however Cook Islands just sneaked past, finishing in 2 minutes and 3 seconds to claim the third podium spot.
According to New Caledonia’s va’a head Coach, Michel Hauata: “It has been a long period of work, long training for several years and it’s a consecration regarding the job of the coach for the team to reach the gold medal race and be the first”.
Hauata added: “It was the first time for the women’s team to win gold in va’a, so I was really happy. The next challenge I face now is to prepare the women’s V6 and V12 for the next Pacific Mini Games”.
An excited Tahitian V6 gold medallist, Kahea Taie expressed how happy he was after his team won the battle against their strong opponent, New Caledonia.
“I am feeling great, we strived to bring back this gold medal to Tahiti because yesterday we lost the V12-500m, so now it’s a great feeling to bring back this gold medal,” he told the Pacific Games News Service.
“This achievement means a lot considering what we have worked for, so I really feel really good, but we will continue to work tomorrow with the team and do our best.”
Taie noted: “The other teams were very strong, but I think the thing that we call ‘Tahui’, the union between our team, is what made us win this race. The union between brothers in the team is the key to us winning this race”.
Va’a will continue on Wednesday with the V6-1500m races and will run until Friday at DC Park. Entry is free.
Participating countries are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Guam, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Tahiti and Samoa.
By Elron Dokese, Glen Deni and Jaylyn Ernes, Pacific Games News Service