Cayuco Paunch: Champions!!

As most of you might have heard already, Bocas’ own paddle team Cayuco Paunch finished 1st place overall for the Ocean to Ocean race on April 9th, with a total time of 5:11:17 setting a new record, once again…

The 3 day paddle race through the Panama Canal starts at Colon, at the Cristobal Locks on the Atlantic side, then passes the 20 miles long Gatun lake on the second day, and then finishes on day 3 with 3 separate stretches on the Pacific side, the Corte Culebra, the Miraflores lake and the last stretch from Miraflores to Diablo.

The weather conditions this year were quite hard, and many of the cayuco teams were not prepared for the side waves and winds and the amount of water entering the boats during the races. Because of that several teams ended up swamping and even sinking and therefore didn’t make it to the finish line. Regardless the quite inexperienced team from Bocas finished the season with yet another new record time. Since it has been only their 2nd year competing in the races and also with a new crew member this year, it seems quite unlikely for them to achieve results like these. What’s their secret?? That’s what everyone likes to know.

We asked the girls why they think were able to achieve such amazing results this season;

Is it the boat?
“Ha, well, it could be… ever since Tom the Bocas-monk blessed our boat, we haven’t lost a race. But no seriously, we actually need to make some adjustments on our boat. We almost went under as well during the lake because we were making so much water, the sides of the cayuco need to be a bit higher, and we also paddled a lot of extra distance because the waves pushed us zig zagging over the lake, without a skeg under the cayuco we found ourselves pretty steerless in those conditions. It was extremely hard.”

Are you just stronger then?
“Uff, hard to say… all the girls are so strong in this sport, and the open category is extremely competitive. They all train every day, and go to the gym besides paddling to do strength and conditioning training. Just look at those pictures of the different teams and check out those biceps… I mean, we train really hard as well, and we are definitely strong. We worked really hard to prepare ourselves for the races. And it payed off with good results. Commitment and perseverance are key to any sport.”

Is your technique better?
“Hmmm, now here is the interesting part… many of the other teams have been paddling together and receiving coaching for years and years… and we are only rookies really. So it’s easy to think it’s not that.. But perhaps because we train always in open water, and receive info and coaching from different sides and people with other paddle influences, we probably created our own style of paddling and training that works best for us, and might not necessarily be the same for the teams in the city. Seems to work good for us though!  Oh and a big shout out to our coach Dave Miner that really helped us towards the end when things got tough sometimes within the team.”

Alright then, what motivates you?
“Bocas does!! We feel we are the underdogs in these races because we are not from the city where the sport originated and all the other teams come from, and that is a mayor drive for us to want to succeed. We want to show everyone that Bocas counts!! And that there are many strong and athletic people in Bocas that are able to commit to something and stick with it till the end. Also we are sponsored by Bocas businesses only, the Divers Paradise Boutique Hotel and Bocas Dive Center is our main sponsor, and so many others that helped and supported us, the community of Bocas is so amazing, we can’t let them down! We paddle for all of them!! We like to help create a different image of Bocas, more sportive and healthy. We love Bocas. Although we come from different parts of the world, it’s our home. Bocas is a mix of everything, that’s what makes it so special and unique. Just like us.”

After this amazing season, what are the future plans?
“Glad you asked! We are definitely going to continue to paddle. We really got more and more into it this year and with our recent accomplishments and our supportive main sponsor, the Divers Paradise Boutique Hotel, the paddle world is opening up to us. We are stoked and excited to announce we will be getting a 6-man outrigger canoe soon. That is a canoe for 6 people with an ‘ama’ for balance so they are better equipped to race in open water. This also means we are looking for extra people to add to our team!! So if you are sportive and motivated to paddle or have some sort of paddling experience, and willing to commit to the sport at least during 1 full season then please reach out to us! We are looking for more paddlers (contact us: Besides that, many exciting things will be happening soon. We are bringing those races to Bocas. So stay tuned and follow us on facebook and instagram! @cayucopaunch ”


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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