WATCH: Inside the World’s Greatest Paddling Team
UPDATE: Video has been removed. Bummer. Hope you had a chance to watch it, it was pretty awesome…
UPDATE 2: Video is back up. Can’t embed but you can view it directly here… https://vimeo.com/channels/953922/144031933
Have you ever heard of EDT Va’a?
If your knowledge of the paddling world ends when the words “stand up” are dropped from the equation, probably not. But if you’ve ever spent five minutes in the world of outrigger canoeing (or its Tahitian equivalent, va’a), the name “EDT” instantly conjures up images of a team filled with mythical ocean warriors that win virtually every race they enter.
Team EDT swept the world of canoe racing last year, winning the two biggest outrigger races on the planet: The Molokai Hoe in Hawaii and the appropriately named “Hawaiki Nui” challenge back home in Tahiti.
If you’re interested to know more about these warriors, watch this great documentary full of insights into how Team EDT trains and competes, and why they’re just so damn good. The opening half of the clip is a recap of the 2014 Hawaiki Nui, while the second part looks at the team’s non-stop training regime.
The video was released this week to coincide with the 2015 Hawaiki Nui race, which begins in just a few days (November 4th-6th). Each of the three stages is a crossing from one Tahitian island to another (the finish is on the paradisaical island of Bora Bora), with times from each stage combined on an overall leaderboard. EDT will surely start favourites.
Team EDT won the 2014 edition in a total time of 9 hours 54 minutes. But not only did EDT’s “A Team” claim the victory, in a field of almost 100 boats even their “B Team” finished 4th, ahead of big names such as Team Shell and Team OPT.
Canoe paddling is a way of life in Tahiti. It’s their national sport. And although the Hawaiian teams are somewhat competitive, the Tahitians have been absolutely unbeatable for the past 15 odd years.
This is all very relevant to us in the stand up paddling world, because the cross-over from outrigger to SUP is quick and easy. Indeed, paddling historians such as Steve West (aka “Westy”) will tell you that stand up paddling is deeply rooted in the world of va’a/outrigger canoe paddling.
Westy and the rest of us who follow SUP religiously have always said to watch out for the Tahitian invasion, and now we’re starting to see it become a reality.
(As a side note: It’s no surprise that three of the top five men on the SUP world rankings – Travis Grant, Danny Ching and Titouan Puyo – all have an outrigger/va’a background.)
Tahitian SUP pioneer Georges Cronsteadt is the most famous convert, but there are a hundred more Georges waiting in the wings. We’ve already seen the likes of Bruno Tauhiro and Nuihiti Buillard score some major results in the States, and there are a couple more names to watch in the video above…
Recent recruit for Team Mistral and the hero of this year’s SUP 11 City Tour, Steeve Teihotaata, is one of EDT’s leaders, while his team mate and lead steerer, Rete Ebb, has started getting into SUP racing and is definitely another name to watch closely.
Apart from being legends in the world of six-man canoeing, Steeve and Rete are usually on the podium of the big one-man outrigger/va’a races as well, such as the Molokai Solo OC-1 race in Hawaii (where guys like Danny and Travis compete) and the epic Super Aito race in Tahiti, the “Super Bowl” of va’a.
In short: These guys are absolute paddling beasts. If Steeve, Rete and the rest of the Tahitian brigade ever focus half as much on SUP as they do va’a, look out world…
Until then, take some inspiration from the clip above. And if you want to become a better stand up paddler: Go find an outrigger canoe.
If you want to learn more about the Hawaiki Nui race, and Tahitian paddling in general, check out our story about Travis Grant’s Hawaiki Nui adventure from 12 months ago, which included this real gem of a video: