Flying colors for CNMI va’a in 2022

Posted on Jan 19 2023


Some members of the CNMI Va’a Women’s National Team pose for a photo during the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 last June. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO )

Exceptional work out in the crystal clear waters of the Philippine Sea for CNMI paddlers in 2022 made the Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation president Justin Andrew rate the year a perfect 10/10.

According to Andrew, the va’a community successfully organized and conducted the Public School System-NMNPSF Interscholastic Outrigger Race program, performed well during the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 last June, and performed extremely well during the 22nd Micronesia Cup Canoe Race in Palau last October.

The highlight of the year definitely was the “Men’s and women’s Va’a National Teams performance during the [Pacific] Mini Games, most especially to our women’s crew for getting up to the podium,” said Andrew.

“Most of our va’a athletes are new to the sport and have not performed at big regional and international events, but they sacrificed a lot and trained hard for one year and competed against the best va’a paddling athletes in the Pacific region—even competed against Tahiti where the sport of outrigger paddling is their national sport,” he said.

During the Pacific Mini Games last June, both the men’s and women’s CNMI National Outrigger Team paddled against the world’s best Tahiti, New Caledonia, and Wallis & Futuna. Even with going up against the big guns, the NMI women’s V12 bagged a podium third place finish after Papua New Guinea was disqualified from the race due to a start fault and for finishing outside their designated lane. 

In the Micronesia Cup, the Marianas Outrigger Club took home one gold in the women’s 1,500m sprint; four silver in the women and men’s 500m sprint and men’s 1,500m sprint, and one in the 10-mile distance race; and one bronze medal in the women’s eight-mile distance race. 

In the same event, the Saipan Paddling Club’s 16-year-old junior paddler placed fourth out of eight men in the V1 500m sprint, while both SPC’s men’s V6 teams in the 500m and 1,500m also placed fourth in the finals out of seven teams. 

When asked what’s next for the NMNPSF after a productive and successful year, Andrew said “the NMNPSF intends to hold more competitions in 2023 as well as help develop the sports by increasing its membership to include jr. paddlers.”

He added, “The NMNPSF also plans to promote a healthy lifestyle via its outrigger programs with its member clubs aimed at those that do not want to train to compete but prefer to paddle as an exercise.”

Andrew then said, “It has been an amazing 2022 and we look forward to many exciting things in 2023. The NMNPSF wants to sincerely thank its member clubs for keeping the sport alive and growing—we also want to thank the many supporters from friends to families who tirelessly and very generously support our va’a programs and lastly, want to reach to and to encourage many more to come out and try the sport—join any of the clubs and just give it a try.”

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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