Sunday, November 16
Vaka Eiva is now in its fifth year and has grown to become the Cook Islands’ biggest annual international sporting event with about 600 paddlers, eight countries and seventy teams taking part. That’s according to the publicity blurb. The teams include men, women, masters, mixed and juniors so there are around thirty different canoe clubs represented and that’s a whole lot of people paddling by day and partying by night.
The weather last year was dreadful – wet and windy. Not that it makes much difference to the guys on the water but for spectators standing on the shore peering out to sea trying to spot outrigger canoes through the driving rain it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It promises to be different this time around. Sunburn and heat stroke could be more of a problem than hypothermia!
The traditional blessing of a selected few canoes took place on Friday evening and hundreds of people came along to witness the occasion. Noo Tuiravakai performed the blessing, sprinkling each vaka with seawater. Anona Napoleon, wife of Hawaiian outrigger canoeing legend Nappy Napoleon, sang a powerful chant at the end of the ceremony (it's the backing soundtrack on the video).
Another regular at Vaka Eiva is Harvie Allison who has been picturing things since the first one. Anyone who wants to see fantastic action outrigger canoeing and surf life saving photographs should check www.harvpix.com.
Racing started on Saturday with OC1 (one-man) 12km and 15km and continues on Monday with the V6 (six-man) 12km and 15km races. Results should be available at www.vakaeiva.com but were not yet there at the time of this post.