Weathering the challenges at SPG Va'a
Tuesday 4th September, 2007
Rowers were met with sunny but very windy conditions on day two of the South Pacific Games Va'a Regatta. Whilst visibility had improved from day one, the wind was causing rough water for the rowers as well as organizational difficulties for the competition operators on land.
With over two hundred and eighty competitors Va'a is one of the largest sports in the South Pacific Games. Unlike other sports that operate under controlled conditions, weather plays a large role in the smooth operation of the outrigger competition.
Yesterday, the medal ceremonies for the men's and women's 2500m V6 sprint were postponed due to heavy rain, then this morning the wind was causing communications problems between the support crews on water and the control centre on land. Usually, two way radios are used to relay mid race happenings but given the gusty conditions, operators had to revert to the use of mobile phones.
The regatta was forced to start marginally late today due to interference with the course by SPG sailors and a recreational yacht. At the first break the volunteer boat handlers were required to move half of the boats from the wharf launching location to the beach location. This was done in order to prevent damage due to contact between the canoes caused by rough water conditions.
According to Race Manager and President of the New Zealand Outrigger Association, Maggie Greening, "the rowers have to take into account the venue when they are preparing for a competition like this. Here it is very open thus more susceptible to the wind and rain. Rain is always preferable to wind when there are adverse conditions because crews can be blown off course. The rowers need to be very skilled to avoid disqualifications (DQ). I'm surprised that we haven't seen more DQs in this regatta actually."
Despite all of these challenges the regatta has been running smoothly. By working closely with other SPG committees such as Transport and Catering, the Va'a Competition Organising committee has ensured an enjoyable regatta for all of those participating. The only downfall is the low number of spectators that the event is drawing.
Maggie Greening suggests that the lack of spectators is due to the isolation of the venue. "The venue provides great viewing areas but is just too far away from everything else for people to get to." This hasn't stopped an influx of media representatives particularly from the Tahiti and New Caledonia who are keen to cover their respective countries' progress.
Reena Falau of Team Niue said, "this regatta has a more cultural feel to it with music in the background. Everyone is really friendly and there is no ego from the other athletes. There is very high competition but a great atmosphere. The organization has been very good with transport always being on time and our food available when we need it."
Six events have already been completed at the regatta and there is now two days remaining during which the V1 and V6 marathon events will take place.
- Lauren Cassar