CULTURE: Whitsunday paddlers enjoyed their entire experience in the Cook Islands. Here residents from Rarotonga are showing off the art of fire twirling. Photo Contributed
CULTURE: Whitsunday paddlers enjoyed their entire experience in the Cook Islands. Here residents from Rarotonga are showing off the art of fire twirling. Photo Contributed

More than just a paddle

WHILE the focus for the four junior Outrigger Whitsunday paddlers was to compete to the best of their ability in the Vaka Eiva Challenge, their recent visit to the Cook Islands was much more than that.

Tyson Joyce, Rick Smith, Ena and Ali Ladd and their families made their way to Rarotonga for the event that took place from November 21-25.

The paddlers noted that conditions were different when it came to racing on the water, but what really inspired them was what happened on land.

Growing up in the Whitsundays most people have access to the newest and best brands and have great access to a range of television, radio and other forms of media.

Over in Rarotonga the paddlers had access to only the one television station, the one radio station and the one newspaper.

During their time in the Cook Islands, the Whitsunday crew also went to local schools and learnt about traditional dancing and ways to crack open a coconut. They also learnt that there were no cleaners at the school and that the students had to clean up after themselves.

Tyson Joyce said his time in the Cook Islands was one of the best experiences of his life.

"Just meeting and the people...learning about their culture and stuff [was great]," he said.

Fellow paddler Rick Smith said the location, scenery and people made up for a "bloody spectacular" week on the island.

By the end of the meet the Whitsunday team had developed strong links with the Cook Island paddlers and school children and have all swapped Facebook details to keep up the friendships made.


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