Interscholastic outrigger canoe is back
Interscholastic va’a racing competitions are back after the first race day of the co-ed high school Public School System Interscholastic Outrigger Canoe Race 2022-2023 unfolded last Saturday in the waters off Kilili Beach in Susupe.
The three public high schools—Saipan Southern High School, Marianas High School, and Kagman High School—are in the running again for the championship this year, determined by which team garners the most points. However, on the first day of races, there were no points given out to any team yet.
The sunny morning started with the 500m women’s, men’s, and co-ed preliminary race, followed by the 1,000m women’s, men’s, and co-ed preliminary race, then the 500m women’s, men’s, and co-ed finals, and the 1,000m finals women’s, men’s, and co-ed finals.
In the women’s 1,000m finals, the Lady Dolphins paddled to victory with a time of 07:09.990; followed by the Lady Ayuyus at 07:44.490; and the Lady Mantas came in last with 07:44.060
In the men’s 1,000m finals, Saipan Southern High School Manta Rays were one with the tide as they glided to first place with a time of 06:07.800; second was Marianas High School Dolphins with a time of 06:27.260; and Kagman High School Ayuyus clocked in at 06:28.740.
The co-ed 1,000m finals was dominated again by the SHSS Mantas as they bagged first place with a time of 06:40.610; the MHS Dolphins came in at 06:53.650; and the KHS Ayuyus clocked in last with a time of 07:13.030.
Justin Andrew, president of the Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation, or NMNPSF, was seen out in the waters supporting the schools and the sport. He said that the young paddlers are promising and the goal is to get them to the level where they can get into the national program. On the opening day of competition, he said “We’re so happy to have good weather and a good turnout.”
“We’re seeing a really better level of skills and preparedness and I think it’s because of the time given to the kids. I think they started practicing in October, so that’s a lot better than before… most of the kids are in outrigger clubs too,” he said.
Tianna Aldan, head coach for the Dolphins, said that the hardest race is the 500m as it is the fastest, “if you make a mistake, it’s very easy for you to get left behind, unlike the 1,000m race, it’s three turns, and there’s a lot of time to catch up.” On their team’s chemistry, she said that “we just try to promote a very good, healthy, and safe environment for the students. I don’t promote any violence or bullying so a lot of them are actually friends in and out of school, so it makes the team come together a lot better because they already know each other.”
As for the competition, she said that “we’re just excited to be here and it’s very tough this year because everyone wants to win.
Maiyah Duenas, coach for the Napu Outrigger Canoe Club, who is assisting the KHS outrigger teams, was interviewed and said that their biggest strength is the love they have for each other. “The fact that we can come together and disregard all the negative energy and just bring in the positive vibes, it’ll never fail.”
Joe Weaver, head coach for SSHS, said that this year’s competition is “very competitive. Everybody’s basically the same skill level. Everybody has new paddlers and some are returning, just like our club. We have a few veterans coming back, but we have a lot of new paddlers and my women have new steerers, so it’s pretty even, I believe.”
With the performance of his teams, he said “each team’s getting their kinks out, fine-tuning things, and fine-tuning crews. We’re just seeing how we all match up with each other. As we progress, I hope my team gets better, as I’m sure they’ll do the same, so we just want to stay in winning form and stay up with the competition.”
The championships are set for March 11.
Last season’s champions of the women and co-ed divisions were the KHS Ayuyus, while the SSHS Manta Rays won the perpetual championship trophy in the boys division.