Maraamu 2016 ---Rachel Clarke

It wasn’t till a week out from the race date until I decided to make a late entry into the Maraamu Surf Ski/ World Series Race in Bora Bora! With the help of Mosole, Sam and work letting me take 2 days late notice leave I was able to make it to the race!I hadn’t really done any paddles over 25km since Molokai so I wasn’t really sure how my body would react to the distance but I was hoping my pre Molokai base training could get me through!

I left NZ on the Thursday afternoon flight and landed in Tahiti late on Wednesday afternoon. I stayed Tahitian Johaan which was pretty much in the city of Tahiti. The Next morning we had a causal hike up the nearby hill to get an awesome lookout over the city and water. Johann then took me around a few iconic Tahitian landmarks and I got to see some of the cultural side which was awesome! That afternoon it was time to fly to Bora Bora, about a 50 minute flight on a tiny plane! Upon arrival I was greeted by Mosole and he took me to the accommodation I was staying at for the night. I arrived late in the afternoon so just unpacked and had some time to relax. On Friday we all jumped on a catamaran and headed over to the island of Taaha where the race started. Upon arrival our boats were all ready for us to get set up and go for a nice light paddle! We all slept in a huge open hall for the night which was definitely a new experience and I think I must have woken up every hour!

Race morning arrived and I was feeling good besides the woken sleep. Race start was 8:30am from the reef pass about 4kms from where our accommodation was so I had to make sure I got on the water with enough time to paddle out to the start! I managed to catch a ride on the race of a boat wash for the majority of the 4km which was great to conserve some much needed energy! Bang on 8:30am and the hooter was off! I went out reasonably hard but didn’t want to blow out in the first 30 minutes. There was a large ocean swell coming over our right shoulder with a light wind heading directly to Bora Bora. I was unsure weather I was on the right line or not but stuck to my gut and headed to the left hand side of the island. In this time I felt really good caught some awesome runners getting a max speed of 20.1km/h and felt like I had good rhythm. With about 15km to go I sighted the huge white lighthouse we had to pass around so knew I had taken a pretty good line. From the lighthouse to the finish it was a gruelling 10km headwind paddle into current. Probably one of the worst 10km paddles you could ever imagine! My hands were full of raw blisters and I was hitting low speeds of 9km/h from this point on I knew it was all mental strength! I paddled strong to the finished and managed to pass a few people in that home stretch! i was so happy to cross the finish line and knew I had done the best paddle I could have done! It took me 3hrs 26 min which was 28 minutes behind the Men’s race winner, Hiromana Flores.

Thank you so much to Mosole for putting on an incredible race, I will definitely be back for another year! Congratulations to all 64 paddlers who put themselves out there and gave it their best shot as it wasn’t an easy paddle!

Also a massive thanks to my sponsors for continuously supporting me throughout my journey! Epic Kayaks, Vaikobi, Bennett Paddles, Balance Sports Nutrition, SOS Rehydrate, AUT Millennium & Orewa Massage Worx.

Next up for me is a local NZ race – Cambridge to Hamilton, a down river 23km race which is this coming Sunday! Check out the details here:http://theboatshed.net.nz/cambridge/race-info/

Read more from Rachel here:  http://rachelclarke.co.nz/