Two boats stopped traffic along Beach Road last Saturday after the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee turned over the spanking new outrigger canoes to the Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation.
Organizing committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta said they wanted the va’a federation to get the V6 outrigger canoes immediately so they can start their training in earnest.
“What happened was we were trying to get a lowboy. It’s available but there’s a cost to it. So I asked the federation to asses if they can just carry it themselves and they said, ‘yeah they can.’ So they did it this morning (Saturday),” he said.
Babauta said the two canoes are part of the four they turned over to the NMNPSF. In all, the organizing committee for next year’s quadrennial event ordered 36 outrigger canoes—18 of the V6 type and 18 of the V1 type for single paddlers.
NMNPSF president Justin Andrew said the umbrella organization of all outrigger canoe clubs on Saipan couldn’t be happier with the turnover of the four V6 outrigger canoes.
“I am most grateful to the organizing committee for approving my request for the four canoes. Having the four canoes now will allow us time to begin training on them most especially when the canoes that we will use in the 2022 Pacific Mini Games are different models. Almost all of our paddlers here have never paddled or competed on these types of canoes, except for the few men who competed in the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
Wasting no time, members of the va’s national team training pool immediately rigged two of the V6 and transformed them into a V12.
“We rigged them as V12 for training for the next two months. We plan to use the V12 to work on techniques and blending,” said Andrew.
While he has yet to paddle on the new outrigger canoes, the NMNPSF president already knows that they will certainly be lighter and faster.
“The new canoes designs are very different from those we have been using at Kilili Beach and besides almost all our paddlers have not paddled and or raced on the new canoes types. That’s why I asked for four now so we can get an early start on getting to know the canoe better.”
Babauta said the outrigger canoes that they just turned over to NMNPSF was sourced from the $4 million the CNMI government set aside for the staging of the Mini Games in 2022. He said after the Mini Games, they plan to turnover some of the units to the inter-scholastic program of the Public School System and also to clubs on Tinian and Rota.