World sprints 2018 were held on the beautiful island of Tahiti. Their people, language (French and Tahitian), deep rooted Polynesian culture of paddling and exquisite food was an awesome experience. I would go back again and again to compete against the most competitive paddlers in the world!
Blessed to be able to represent Hawaii in the Masters 60's V-6 as well race the V-1 in the adaptive class, I soon became aware of just how tough the Tahitians are in their own backyard.
Being a KIALOA 'ELELE ambassador has allowed me the privilege and pleasure to feelthe newest outrigger paddles that Dave Chun is constantly developing for every purpose and condition. Being totally without sight gives me an advantage, I have to feel the catch, the rhythm, the glide, the bumps, and much more than all of these... the energy that the Mana has to offer us as paddlers... what a blessing!
The Masters V-six 60's 1000 meter had three turns and our crew fought hard and placed a very respectful fourth, behind three Tahitian crews, just out of the money by three tenths of a second. In the Masters V-six 60's 500 meter our crew took sixth with only tenths of seconds separated second place from eighth!
Both of these six man events provided me the opportunity to apply maximum sprint pressure on my Paea paddle and I have to say that it's performance was stellar... smooth entry, stiff enough blade, clean exit. I loved it!
I race in the adaptive class in the rudderless Va'a and to date have been the only blind paddler to do so. Not because I am all that, but to perpetuate a separate class for visually impaired paddlers. My hope is to help promote and be recognized by the IVF and inspire other blind and visually impaired persons to come enjoy outrigger paddling and compete against others.
My beloved coach, Aka Hemmings, started his vision of adaptive paddling at the World Sprints with Hawaii having the one and only adaptive crew to race this event. In his honor I wish to continue his dream! The Tahitian adaptive team had over twenty five paddlers, let alone other adaptive paddlers, from around the world. Dreams can come true!
The IVF allows the blind to use a sighted person to get them through the course. I love working with and training a new guide and that's what I did. I found a Tahitian paddler well skilled in the va'a rudderless V-1 and got in three days of training before lining up for the 500 and 250 meter races, which were straight finals.
Using my newest Ekahi Double Bend carbon paddle, I felt that Dave has come up with another winner! My Ekahi allowed me to control my va'a with smooth, quick and powerful strokes, getting me straight down the course. (Hmmm, okay, least I think I was going straight?) Ha! I did finish without a DQ and achieved my fastest times at a World Sprint event.
I cannot be more grateful for the support that Dave and Meg of KIALOA have given to me and, like the Hawaiian saying, nana na moe - Look to your dreams!!
~ Vic Allen
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