READY AND WAITING: Whitsunday paddler Rick Smith (centre) lined up on the start line and ready to race during the Vaka Eiva Challenge in the Cook Islands last week. Photo Contributed
READY AND WAITING: Whitsunday paddler Rick Smith (centre) lined up on the start line and ready to race during the Vaka Eiva Challenge in the Cook Islands last week. Photo Contributed

Our fab 4 excels in Cook Islands

OUTRIGGING

FOUR junior paddlers from the Whitsundays went to the Cook Islands not knowing quite what to expect of themselves.

They returned last weekend with great big grins on their faces and a whole swag of medals to go with it.

Tyson Joyce, Rick Smith and Ali and Ena Ladd travelled to Rarotonga for the Vaka Eiva Challenge from November 21-25.

The Whitsunday paddlers were competing as part of the Sunshine Coast junior development squad that was made up of the top paddlers from 10 different Queensland clubs.

More than 200 junior paddlers from New Zealand, Cook Islands and Australia went head to head at the event and the Whitsunday crew proved they had what it took to compete with the best.

The four paddlers brought home with them 14 medals between them - five gold, six silver and three bronze.

Coach Adam Joyce said these results simply blew him away.

"It was awesome. I was proud of each and every one of them," he said.

"All the kids got on really well. It showed that they are definitely up there with the best from the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane that train harder."

This event marked the first time the local paddlers had competed overseas.

Tyson brought home with him five medals and said the entire five-day event met his expectations.

"They were met for sure," he said. "Just the results we got and the way we paddled."

Tyson said the highlight of the event was being part of the 15km ocean race - it was a memorial race for the founder of junior paddling in the Cook Islands who passed away last year.

"It was just awesome paddling for someone who was in it for juniors and a junior coach," he said.

The Vaka Eiva Challenge wraps up what has been a long season for the junior paddlers who have earned a break over the Christmas period.

MEDALS GALORE

Ena Ladd - Gold U19 500m sprint, silver U19 12km ocean race and silver U19 15km ocean race

Ali Ladd - Silver U16 4km race, silver U16 6km race, silver U16 500m sprint and bronze in U19 12km ocean race

Tyson Joyce - Gold U16 4km race, gold U16 6km race, gold U19 500m sprint, silver U19 12km ocean race and bronze U19 15km ocean race

Rick Smith - Gold U14s 4km race, silver U16 6km race and bronze U14 2km race


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