Through its connection to the sea, shipping company Matson has come on board to be the events platinum naming sponsor, ensuring the oe vaka festival continues to bring together paddlers from across the globe to celebrate the essence of vaka moana and paddle in paradise.
Having marked a successful 10th anniversary milestone event in 2013, this year’s Matson Vaka Eiva 2015 paddling festival will be a springboard for fresh directions in continuing to grow international paddling events in the Cook Islands.
Matson South Pacific strategic development manager and Pacific rugby legend Michael Jones say they are proud to be associated with such an iconic event.
“Vaka Eiva brings Cook Islanders and people from around the region to one of the most exciting and invigorating sports in the world, and connects us to our Pacific heritage more than any other popular sport.”
From November 20 to 27, the island of Rarotonga will be transformed into paddling heaven and will see more than 600 paddlers compete over 65 action-packed races across the island’s pristine open ocean and lagoon.
From its humble beginnings in 2004, the paddling festival has grown over the years to include more than 1000 paddlers – many who have continued to return to the islands for the popular annual event.
Probably, the biggest event on the Cook Islands sporting calendar, the paddling event owes much of its success to its extended family of sponsors.
Gold sponsor Trader Jacks will be fuelling both paddlers and supporters with the company providing catering for the event and there’s no going past the Vaka Bar at the iconic bar and restaurant for the best spot to catch the paddling action from land.
Silver sponsors include Pacifi c Resort who will provide meals for volunteers as well as deliver the traditional turou welcomes for both the Mapu Oe Vaka events and the main sprint day in Muri, and daily newspaper CI News who will bring you daily updates on all the on and off-water action.
Polynesian Car and Bike Hire have been part of the Vaka Eiva festival since its inception and are on board as Silver sponsors along with the Edgewater Resort and Spa, Bluesky Pacific Group and lead Eco partner CITC.
Island Car and Bike Hire are Bronze sponsors of the paddling event along with Sails Restaurant on Muri beach.
Contributions by supporting sponsors including Palm Grove, Western Union and Club Raro all add to the success of the paddling festival.
With a “Mapu Vaka” junior division dedicated to developing future toa moana paddlers, Vaka Eiva caters for all ages and paddling abilities, offering challenging ocean Iron and Marathon races and action-packed sprint races for paddlers right up to the golden masters division.
It’s not all hard slog on the water though, as the sprint races held midweek in the picturesque Muri beach and lagoon are geared around fun and friendship, with just as many novelty races as the fast and furious paddling action for sprint supremacy.
This is the day paddlers and supporters let their hair down and soak up the sun in between the week’s races.
The ultimate paddling prizes are the coveted “Pacific Cup” and “Pacific Paddle” trophies for the open women and men’s 36km changes race around Rarotonga – a gruelling race that is not for the faint-hearted.
Matson Vaka Eiva 2015 will be a festival with something for everyone. You can follow regular Vaka Eiva updates on the festivals website or Facebook page.