Sadly, a good friend and paddler passed away. Days after the Ace Race, Mafua Teaupa passed suddenly. We will miss him greatly.
I first met Mafua on the water, I was out on the SUP heading into the wharf in Tonga, he was pretty stoked to see us coming in on the SUP and called out to get our attention. Next thing we were standing around the outrigger canoes at NOCC headquarters talking paddling. Mafua had just returned from Hawaii, where he had paddled with Tui Tonga. From that day on, Mafua, Kiko and I were pretty much in that canoe every morning or afternoon hitting the water.
Mafua was really passionate about paddling and his enthusiasm soon rubbed off on Kiko and I, in fact, his encouragement inspired me to start Strongarm. With Mafua and Kiko becoming our first official Team Strongarm paddlers.
I was looking forward to paddling with Mafua in the Tui Tonga team in Auckland for the 2012/2013 season. Kafoa and I have decided to dedicate the races we compete in to his memory this year.
It is a real loss to the Tongan paddling community and sad to lose a good friend like Mafua.