The Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation is expecting the delivery of six spanking new outrigger canoes the CNMI National Outrigger Canoe Team will use in the islands’ hosting of the Pacific Mini Games next year.
“We were informed by Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta that six canoes are scheduled to arrive at the end of this month,” said NMNPSF president Justin Andrew.
In an earlier interview with Saipan Tribune, Babauta confirmed the delivery of the outrigger canoes any day now.
“Va’a is ready and the first shipment of boats is arriving soon. We would like to unveil these canoes to the national team. These are brand new boats. The latest of its kind for outrigger—V6 and V1,” he said.
The outrigger competition of the Mini Games will be held at the 13 Fishermen Monument Beach and Babauta said the organizing committee is working closely with the Coastal Resources Management, Division of Environmental Quality, and all the necessary permitting agencies to facilitate the event.
Andrew, meanwhile, said the candidates for the CNMI National Outrigger Canoe Team are now transitioning into an elevated phase of training/tryout sessions involving more power endurance/conditioning and paddle technique and forms focus.
“We are hoping to have our national teams by late October. However, we are keen on ensuring having the best of our paddlers represent us. So this process will be to ensure just that and we are not fixed on a hard solid date to have our national team in place. We want the process to help us and so we are not rushing to a fixed date,” he said.
Andrew assured everyone that the CNMI will have national teams soon.
“We know the importance of training together as a team and we understand that the process can also create anxiety and stress on our athletes thinking if they will make the team or not. That being said, we will do our best to not drag this process out longer than needed.”
Outrigger canoe was originally not included in the calendar of sports events for next year’s Mini Games. The CNMI was only expected to host six events—athletics, badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, golf, and triathlon—as a condition for pushing through with the quadrennial following the devastation brought about by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.
Later on, the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres asked the Pacific Games Council to add another three sports events—vaa, tennis, and weightlifting—to increase the sports calendar of the 2022 NMI Pacific Mini Games to nine.
Saipan Paddling Club, Napu Outrigger Canoe Club, Marianas Outrigger Club, and Marianas Pacific Paddlers make up the clubs under the NMNPSF.