Paddlers conduct a training session on a V6 canoe in the Saipan lagoon in March 2021.

THE Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation tryouts concluded in December with the selection of 24 paddlers who will represent the CNMI in the Pacific Mini Games set for June 17-25, 2022.

“We have 14 men and 14 women on the team and I have already submitted my report to the  Northern Marianas Sports Association,” paddle sports federation president Justin Andrew said.

 He added that the tryouts started in August and ended in December.

Andrew said the team members are working twice as hard to prepare for the mini games. “If we continue the level of training we're doing with the commitment we have, I think we have a pretty good chance,” he added. 

The local team trains almost every day of the week, he said. “We have land-based training and ocean-based training. But we focus more on ocean-based training, going as much as to four times a week on the canoes.”

For land-based exercises, the team focuses on weight training and cardio, he said. “Basically what we’re doing now is outrigger conditioning training.” 

Andrew said they will also work on team chemistry and refining techniques. “As we move into the next phase of training in mid-March, we will focus on the specific format of the race such as dialing the turns and starts and finishes.”  

The V1 canoes ordered by the mini games organizing committee are expected to arrive by the end of the week. Once they’re on island,  Andrew said there will be more training opportunities for paddlers who want to participate in the solo events.

“So we’re excited for that. We're currently training with the V6 canoes…. Not everyone is going to do the V1 race in the mini games but having those canoes at our disposal will help,” Andrew said.

With over 290 participating athletes, Va’a or the outrigger canoe races will be one of the toughest competitions in the mini games, he added.

“I know we'll have stiff competition coming in, and they are also regularly training right now,” Andrew said. “It's going to be exciting. A once in a lifetime event for local athletes to see a higher level of competition and improve our game. It's a win-win situation for us.”

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