Last Cayuco season was the first time in history that a team from Bocas del Toro competed in the races in Panama City. Under the initiative of Carolina Botero (steer) the team Cayuco Paunch was created, formed by Angie Whittemore (pacer), Julie Lanouette (bailer) and Esther Brix (power). With the help of the main sponsor from that season, Red Bull, that had rented the cayuco for them during the season.
After the season, Carolina moved back to Panama City and the team Cayuco Paunch was unsure if they could continue to paddling. As the new season was approaching Julie, Angie and Esther were starting to think their quick and amazing rise in this Panamanian sport was doomed to last only one season. The girls decided to not give up, stay positive and open minded and just reach out to the Bocas community to see if they there would be a solution they had not thought of yet. And within a day after the announcement online, they were approached by the now new main sponsor of the team: Divers Paradise and Bocas Dive Center.
From there on the excitement only grew and all the hard work of the previous year was rewarded after all! Team Cayuco Paunch is now the official owner of their very own cayuco (so no more need to rent) and now they get to practice year round. The girls also soon found new team member who’s experienced and are very excited to add Romaine Wittgreen to the team as the fourth paddler.
The cayuco needed some adjustments, so it was in Panama City the entire time leading up until the first race of the new season. The girls therefore were training on a wooden jig close to Leaf Eaters to prepare for the upcoming first race, the Copa Odebrecht, a 6 miles race on the side of the Cinta Costera in Panama. When they got to Panama City they were only able to have 2 practices with the cayuco, during which they switched positions in the boat, which also means new tasks for each person to focus on during the race. With all that into consideration, it wasn’t an ideal first race, however: the show must go on…
When all said and done, team Cayuco Paunch fought for a 3rd place finish in the year’s first race. First place went to Mana (Carolina and Red Bull’s new team) and 2nd place Angelus and in the first race of the season, who were both favorites in the race for different reasons (see www.thebocasbreeze.com)
A word from Esther Brix and the girls of Cayuco:
“We are extremely proud to have Nike this year as a sponsor for clothing and sportive attributes. And also like to thank La Iguana Surf Bar and the Bocas Fight Gym for their on going support for the team. We are blessed with delicious and healthy smoothies from Leaf Eaters after training. And a great body stretch and alignment with the soul feeding Yoga classes of Laura Kay. And for this race we also thankful to receive support from Paradise Found Real Estate.
The Bocas del Toro community is so amazingly supportive that we like them all to know that we feel truly blessed to compete in this 100% Panamanian sport, representing the archipelago…We like to also mention a special thanks to Carolina Botero from cayuco Mana and her family for helping us prepare for this season and letting us stay at their house during the competitions. Without their help competing would have been a lot more complicated. Also our first paddle training with our cayuco Paunch was together with cayuco Mana. Although we are competitors now, and we of course both teams want to win, we also still feel that sisterhood that was created during last season support and motivate each other as much as possible, even though we are now 2 separate, competitive teams. This is one of the aspects we love so much.”
The team will be having several fund raisers again, because the costs are high so if you’d like to support the girls of Cayuco Paunch, please visit the Bocas Brewery Beach Bar on January 10th for live music (ft. Esther herself) and all sorts of fun fund- raising activities.