Spotlight: Veracruz Outrigger Racing Team

| June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Veracruz Racing Team

Veracruz Racing Team

The sport of outrigger canoe paddling has greatly evolved from a Polynesian seafaring tradition. In the meantime, the Cayuco canoes of the indigenous peoples of Panama developed on a parallel path. These paths will merge at the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge with the participation of the Veracruz Outrigger Racing Team, a group of top-level Cayuco paddlers seeking to try their hand at outrigger paddling. The Women’s Veracruz Outrigger Racing Team will be the first team to represent the country of Panama at the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge.

The Panamanian Cayuco was traditionally used by the indigenous people of Panama for transportation within the waterways of the Isthmus.  To this day, these canoes are carved out of native Panamanian wood and shaped by expert boat builders.

The signature Cayuco event is the Ocean to Ocean Race. It was established  in 1954 by Mr. Frank Townsend, a canal worker and leader of a local Boy Scouts of America.  Mr. Townsend was inspired to create this race while traveling along the banks of the Rio Chagres with a group of young scouts studying the traditions of the native peoples.  Over time the races between explorer groups developed into what is know today as the Ocean to Ocean race. In 2000, when the U.S.- Panama treaty transferred governance to Panama and U.S. Military Bases were closed, the Balboa Paddle Club (CREBA) took over the leadership and organization of the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race.

The cayuco season starts in October and extends through April.  The race course commences in the port city of Cristobal on the Atlantic Ocean.  Over the course of three days, the race covers the distance of 50 miles and ends in the Port of Balboa, on the Pacific coast of Panama.

The Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race has two categories: a Trophy category, consisting of youth ages 14 to 21 years and an Open category for those aged 22 and older.  Each category is subdivided into three subcategories: male, female and mixed.  Competitive Teams consist of four paddlers but canoes in the Open category typically accommodate more paddlers.  There are three sprint races leading up to the Ocean to Ocean which include Copa Tribunal Electoral Veramar, Copa Gamboa Rainforest Resort, and Copa Amador Cause Way.

Each canoe is hand crafted and has its own unique imperfections.  Canoe design differ in each category. Most prominent is the requirement to steer with a fin in the Trophy category and a rudder for canoes in the Open category. Cayuco’s seats are low to the waterline to lower the center of gravity of the paddlers and help with balance.  Some Cayucos also have Front and Back canvas covers and foot pegs.

Over 100 boats participate in the race each year and the number of spectators and international participants increase every year.  Past participants include paddlers from Costa Rica, Venezuela, Canada, United States, Spain, Argentina and Brazil.

Pro Paddle Fitness is proud to sponsor the Veracruz Outrigger Racing team,  the first Panamanian team to participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge.   Pro Paddle Fitness is Panama’s First Indoor Paddling Gym, providing paddlers with a fully equipped training facility, customized training programs and support from trainers and coaches with years of experience in Cayuco paddling.  They strive to elevate the competitive sport of Cayuco throughout the Isthmus of Panama and provide a fun and safe environment for novice and experienced paddlers alike.  Much like outrigger, the love for paddling is about family, pride and tradition.  Cayuco is unique to Panama but, as the sport grows and evolves, it is becoming apparent that this paddling tradition translates well to other watersports around the world including outrigger paddling, thus, expanding their reach beyond their own borders.

Veracruz Women

The 2012 Veracruz Outrigger Racing Team includes winning crew members from this year’s 2012 Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race, including team Temie: 2nd Place Trophy Category Female – Diana Chacón, Vanesa Coloma, Felli Herrero, and Sara Duarte, Rio Teta: 1st Place Trophy Category Female – Kristina Galindo, Mischief: 3rd Place Trophy Female – Alejandra Escobar, Godspeed: Third Place Open Category Female – Andrea Galindo and visiting steerswoman: Meaghan Franklin originally from Sweetwater, New Jersey by way of Hawaii where she has competed in races like the Pailolo Challenge and Kaiwi Channel Races over the past 5 years.

“My hopes for the race are to find the lokahi (unity) within the crew and to have a smooth run blending and enabling the wa’a to glide effortlessly.” says Ms. Franklin.

The Veracruz team has been training hard and have mixed up different types of land training including, crossfit, body weight exercises, running, hikes, and yoga combined with time on the water 3 times a week and adjusting their Cayuco stroke technique to outrigger.

“The Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge will be a unique experience and we are incredibly honored to be able to represent Panama in such a world-class event.” – Armando Gundin, Coach and Owner of Pro Paddle Fitness


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