It’s an event that not only showcases the island’s love and passion for water sport, but also the beauty of our paradise.
In its 15th year, the Vaka Eiva paddling festival, which begins on Saturday November 24, is one of the highlights of the annual sporting calendar combining competitive oe vaka races, a splash of fun and of course time off the water to explore the island.
Matson Shipping is once again the major naming sponsor for the event, with a family of sponsors back on the vaka to make Vaka Eiva happen.
Local paddlers have been cutting their blades through the ocean in all weather conditions to stay ahead of the pack, with 300 international paddlers set to arrive for Matson Vaka Eiva 2018.
While most paddling crews are from paddling clubs across Australia and New Zealand, the Hanohano Women’s crew will be bringing their American flavour from their California paddling club. They will be celebrating their coach’s 40th anniversary in paddling at Vaka Eiva 2018.
Hawaii and Tahiti paddlers are also set to be part of the mix, as well as top local paddlers from the two core paddling clubs, Te Tupu O Te Manava and Ngakau Toa.
Crew registrations for the Vaka Eiva 2018 will be held on November Friday 23 with the traditional welcome and event blessing by Vaka Te Au O Tonga to be held at 5pm at the Vaka Village at Avarua harbour followed by team photos at 5.30pm and the opening of the annual Matson Vaka Eiva 2018 Paddle Art Exhibition.
The exhibition, which features oe vaka paddles as the canvas for artists, will open on Friday evening at the Beachcomber Pearl Market and Bergman Contemporary Art Gallery starting at 6pm.
Saturday 24 will see the first races of Eiva 2018 with the V6 12km Iron Races for Under 19 crews, open men’s and women’s crews as well as all the maters divisions.
The prizegiving for the opening race will be held after all paddlers have returned to base and will be flowed by a traditional welcome kaikai.
Saturday will also be the opportunity for crews to register for races on Monday November 26 including the OC1 and V1 12km Iron races where individual paddling prowess will be on display in the Under 19, opens division and experienced master’s division.
Paddlers can also register for the 6km “Mix it Up” Hula Iron race which is set to be an exciting battle. A prizegiving for the races will follow.
Tuesday November 27 will see the popular Bob Worthington Memorial Mixed Round Raro Relay Trophy go up for grabs with crews in the Under 19, open and masters to line up for top honours.
Paddles will be forgotten for a moment on Tuesday afternoon with swimming taking over the programme in the Ale Up Boiler Swim. Gold coin donations will go to support the island’s Te Vaerua Rehabilitation Centre.
Wednesday will see the fun head to Nikao with the Vaka at Vaina’s sprint event in which fun takes over serious paddling for a day of sun, fun and a splash of paddling.
In fact, paddlers can have as much fun in the sun as they like, with the following day marked as a rest day before racing kicks into action again on Friday November 30, in the coveted Pacific Cup Men’s and Pacific Paddle Women’s Round Rarotonga Relay Race.
The pinnacle relay race around the island is the race everyone is gearing up and waiting for as paddlers will face various weather and water conditions as they circumnavigate the island in the ultimate oe vaka race.
The challenging race will be followed by the final prizegiving and farewell celebrations for Vaka Eiva 2018.
Matson Vaka Eiva 2018 competition coordinator Eva Allsworth says she is very excited about the upcoming event, with major sponsors eager to support the much loved oe vaka event.
CINews will be publishing a Matson Vaka Eiva 2018 feature supplement with all the details on the races, paddling crews, off the water events and the best on-land viewing spots for land-loving oe vaka supporters.