The champions are back and paddling! The girls of the Cayuco Paunch team are currently gearing up for their December 9th race, which will mark the beginning of their 3rd season on the CREBA National Cayuco circuit. Last year the team won the national title in the Female Open category, while setting a record time in the 2017 Ocean-to-Ocean race!
The girls have come very far in just 2 years of competition and have overcome many obstacles. In their first year of competition they took 3rd place overall, without even having their own boat. They were donated a boat in the beginning of the season, which was stolen and they had to train for part of the year rowing on planks of wood between docks! In their second year, they got a boat but weren’t able to practice with it until a few days before the very first race, but they still placed 1st that season and still set records! The girls of Cayuco Paunch are definitely fighters (literally).
This year they introduce 2 new team members: Simone Vieria and Sassi Eisele. Interesting to note, all 4 current members of the team are trained in different forms of martial arts (Cayuco Punch?) Esther Muy Thai, Simone Capoeira and Angie and Sassi Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu. Let’s meet the new girls:
Simone: My name is Simone Vieria. I was born May 4th, 1987, 30 years old. I’m from the Ciudad Bombinhas in Santa Catarina, Brazil. I was born on the beach- in paradise. I grew up surfing, practicing Capoeira and competitive running. I surfed until I injured my foot. Afer that I was biking until I learned about paddling. I was trained by the great Luciano Facchini, a great Brazilian rower. He taught me everything. I went traveling for a year, ending up in Bocas del Toro, Panama and meeting the best team: Cayuco Paunch.
Sassi: Around a year ago I came to Bocas because I wanted to live close to the sea. I have been practicing Judo for 18 years and have the 2nd Dan black belt. Therefor I visited the Bocas Fight Gym already on my first day on the island, to practice BJJ there. At the Fight Gym I got to know the girls from Cayuco Paunch, and I am very happy and thankful to now be part of the group. I hope we achieve a lot together and I am looking forward to practicing and improving my paddling throughout the season.
Let’s not forget to acknowledge the teams’ founders Angie Whittemore and Esther Brix, who both also both fighters and train at the Bocas Fight Gym (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muy Thai, respectively). Julie Lanouette is also one of the team’s founders but will have to sit out this season as she is expecting. Congratulations, Julie!
The Breeze also spoke with the team’s coach, David Miner who is very confident about the prospects of the new season. At the time of the interview, they had been introducing the 2 new girls and shuffling spots, trying to find the right configuration with the new members. They ended up with Esther moving to the stern, in the Steering position. Angie remains the pacer in front. Simone is in the Power Stoke position (2) and Sassi is the Bailer.
Good luck Cayuco Paunch- the Bocas Breeze and community of Bocas del Toro are rooting for you!
CREBA: Club de Remos de Balboa (the National Paddling Club of Panamá)
Cayuco: Panamanian Paddling Sport