The country’s top sailors will vie for the coveted Cook Islands Tangaroa 18 Foot Vaka Open and National Championship title today.
The modern sailing vaka is a popular revival of the early traditional dugout sailing canoes, designed by Rarotonga Sailing Club life member Thomas Koteka in 1999.
Koteka constructed an upgraded version with a modern tiller and sails and built the first boats in his garage, said race organiser Gareth Clayton.
“The Tangaroa vaka champs have a proud history in the Cook Islands. Legend has it that it’s all because Thomas had a vivid dream one night. He woke up and decided the sailing vaka should be back in class again - and to this day they are,” he said.
“Each vaka is crewed by at least two people and they fly across the water at great speed. Everyone is welcome to come down to witness the thrilling back to back racing action. Make a day of it! A great vantage point is on the deck of the Rarotonga Sailing Club, which has the added benefit of the hospitality of Sails cafe and bar.”
Cook Islands Olympians Helema Williams and Taua Elisa will be umpiring the races on the water.
The regatta is organised by the Rarotonga Sailing Club in association with Sailing Cook Islands and is sponsored by Air New Zealand and Thomas and Lizzie Koteka.
The Rarotonga Sailing Club is grateful for the generous support of its flotilla sponsors: Muri Beachcomber, Magic Reef, sailing team sponsors: Lagoon Breeze, Muri Vista Villas, Island Car & Bike Hire, Sunset Resort, Air New Zealand, Rarotonga Breweries, development sponsors: Captain Tamas, Sands Villas, Sails Restaurant and coaching sponsor Pacific Resort.