Frances heads to Tahiti for World Sprints

Date published

10 Jul 2018
Frances is Tahiti bound to compete in the Va'a World Sprint Championships.

Tahiti bound to take part in an outrigger canoe paddling world championships sprint is our very own administration coordinator of medical services Frances. 

Outrigger canoeing, a popular sport in the Pacific Islands, is a racing sport in which canoes with lateral floats called outriggers, are fastened to the hull. 

Frances scored the opportunity to compete after qualifying at the national championships held in the Sunshine Coast in February this year.

A member of the Rockingham Outrigger Canoe Club, Frances said she had been paddling for 25 years while living in New Zealand before she made the move to Western Australia five years ago. 

From July 19-26, Frances will compete in 500m and 1000m heats for the Senior Master Women's Over 50 division and Open Division (ages 20-40) and a 500m heat for the Singles.

"Besides my family, my whole life is about paddling," she said. 

"I mostly only travel when paddling is involved. The sport has taken me to Rarotonga, Hawaii, Samoa and Bora Bora to name a few. 

"I train six days a week unless I am sick or injured, doing a mixture of land and water training where I run during the week and do some gym work to build strength."

Frances said she first discovered outrigger canoeing after watching her son paddle and after trying it once, she was hooked.

"I was a long distance runner, that's all I ever did. After trying it once, I went back a few more times and it just stuck," she said. 

"I thought paddling would help save my knees in the future and it's given me an opportunity to meet so many people from the paddling world, learn about cultures and the connection between my people and all other Polynesian and Pacific Island people."

Frances said she will serve as 'pacer' in the Senior Master Women's division and will 'steer' in the Open division.

She said sprint racing incorporates turns on a 250 metre course and the skill of steering is very technical and comes with experience. 

"Having the sixth seat is a hard seat. You have to understand the water and master turning the canoe with just your paddle as well as manage your crew throughout the race," she said.  

"As a pacer, the very first seat, the team relies on you to set the right pace, you have to listen to your crews calls and feel how the canoe responds." 

Having lived and worked in Western Australia for the past five years, Frances said she is honoured to be representing her club and the country she now calls home.

"I feel privileged to be representing Australia in gold and green. I have amazing Australian friends, especially my work colleagues who I feel proud to represent," she said.

"Thanks to paddling, I am blessed to have friends from all over the world who I will be catching up with when I'm in Tahiti."