Kayak makes its Pacific Games debut at Sol2023

Kayak has never been a sport at the Pacific Games before. Photos: Brian Hagi, Pacific Games News Service

The much-anticipated inaugural Pacific Games kayak races at Sol2023 lit up the waters of DC Park on Monday with heats for the K1-500m and K2-500m.

Monday saw two heats for each event, for both men and women, with the winners qualifying for the finals tomorrow.

Iloha Eychenne of Tahiti leads the women’s events by winning two heats in the K2-500 meters, tailed by Charlotte Robin of New Caledonia and Tara Cumming of Cook Islands.

The Tahitian told the Pacific Games News Service that at first the weather conditions were nice but had become choppy, with winds picking up late in the afternoon.

“I am quite hopeful to keep the same manner as we do today for the finals tomorrow,” she said.

Saeni Kofela of Solomon Islands’ men’s kayak team also reflected on his debut at the Pacific Games competition.

“This is my first appearance in a professional kayak tournament, and I am happy with the result of being in third place,” he said.

“I just recently started training in this paddling sport, and the outcome today is satisfactory.”

Andre Tutaka George of Cook Islands, who also qualified for the finals tomorrow, said: “The heat was a bit challenging, but I had a good start and managed to finish strong. I am going to work harder in the race and hopefully come out with a medal.”

Tuesday’s kayak finals for both men and women start at 8:45am.

DC Park has free entry, so the public and supporters are encouraged to come out in numbers and cheer for their teams as other sports like touch rugby and va’a are also underway in the DC Park precinct this week.

By Willie Fafale, Jaylyn Ernest and Karen Veraro, Pacific Games News Service