On this day, four years ago, the Marianas Outrigger Club capped its outstanding performance in the men’s open division of the 18th Micronesia Cup by topping the long course race of the event held in Koror, Palau.
MOC, which was represented by Jose Quan, Vince Tudela, Bobby Cruz, Rich Salas, Ketson “Jack” Kabiriel, Billy Grow, Angel San Nicolas, James Lee, and captain Dino Manning in the Oct. 22-23, 2016 tournament, completed the 12-mile long course in 1:28:16. The visiting paddlers beat the tough Hong Kong United (1:31:05) and home team PCC Mesekiu 3 (1:32:07) in the longest race of the competition in the waters off Meyuns Seaplane Ramp.
With the victory in the last day of the event, MOC earned a 3-peat, becoming the first team from the CNMI to win all three races in the men’s division.
MOC, during the opening day of the tournament, went 2-0, after prevailing in the 500m and 1,500m races. The club gained top honors first in the 1, 500m race after finishing the three-lap course in 7:31.85. MOC was nearly 12 seconds ahead of Guam’s Taotao Galaide Ma’aksom, which clocked in at 7:43.53 and won by more than 20 seconds against the third-ranked Belau Kanu Club Waterfalls (7:53.52).
For the 500m sprint, the MOC paddlers also reached the finish line first way ahead of their competitors after submitting 2:08.56. Belau Kanu Club Waterfall was nearly four seconds behind MOC with the former logging 2:12.22, while Taotao Galaide Ma’aksom completed the Top 3 after posting 2:14.22. Three other teams joined the sprints finals with Palau’s PCC Mesekiu 3, IFIT, and PCC Mesekiu 1 checking in at 2:14.71, 2:24.22, and 2:25.10, respectively.
Cruz, who was part of the MOC crew in the long distance race, recalled how they battled Hong Kong neck-and-neck before gaining some cushion heading back to the shore.
“It’s the hardest race out of the three that we won, not only because of the distance, but because of how tough our closest competitor is. They are more experienced paddlers and are used to long distance races,” Cruz said.
The MOC member added that going into the final day of the competition, they don’t know how they will be performing in the long course, so topping the race was really a surprise.
“We know we are competitive because we trained and prepared hard for the event, working on our techniques and conditioning, but we did not expect to sweep all three races, especially win the long course. The thing with the long distance race is you have to be smart and understand the condition of the water and the wind and use them to your advantage. In the long course, it’s a matter of who’s going to give up first and who’s going to hang on tight and trust their teammates,” Cruz said.
With its rare sweep in the 2016 edition of the Micro Cup, MOC was named Team of the Year during the Northern Marianas Sports Association Annual Banquet.
Then in the 19th Micro Cup hosted by Guam, MOC nearly duplicated its 2016 feat after winning the 500m and long distance race anew. The group missed the 1,000m title after placing second to BKC Men, which posted 5:48.1 in the finals against MOC’s 5:49.3.
Meanwhile, the Micro Cup this year was supposed to be hosted by Guam anew, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it the second time in three years there’s no regional meet for paddlers. In 2018, the CNMI-hosted Micro Cup was scrapped due to Super Typhoon Yutu.