Powering through on the ocean in Vaka Eiva 2018. HARVEY ALLISON/18112566
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the highly anticipated Vaka Eiva ‘oe vaka’ outrigger canoeing competition, the country’s biggest ocean sporting event which guarantees a display of world class skill and endurance.
After a lapse of four years, the Matson Vaka Eiva is
steering back with a big splash attracting an impressive turnout of more than
350 international paddlers registered in 40 teams from Aotearoa New Zealand,
Australia, Hawaii, Tahiti and the United States.
International paddlers started arriving in Rarotonga
this week together with their supporters, some landing here for the first time,
and some who participated in the first ever Vaka Eiva which was held back in
Over 120 local paddlers from the two Rarotonga based
clubs, Te Tupu o te Manava and Ngakau Toa, are also looking forward to putting
their skills to the test.
All up around 500 paddlers will be digging deep into
the big blue ocean chasing a prominent finish.
This year would have marked the 20th
anniversary of the event; however, it was put on hold due to the global
Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The last Vaka Eiva was held in 2019.
In 2004, the inaugural event hosted 200 paddlers and a
fleet of only seven V6 canoes.
From just having an open category in 2004, the growth
of Vaka Eiva now sees a multitude of categories ranging from juniors, mixed,
masters, senior masters and golden masters.
The tenth anniversary celebration in 2013 saw almost
1200 paddlers participating, with nearly 30 canoes on the start line in some
Since the two-year lockdown which saw international
paddling events marked off the calendars, there has been a resurgence in
interest from paddlers wanting to travel and compete in international paddling
Vaka Eiva is on the bucket list for many.
Throughout the years Vaka Eiva has welcomed paddlers
from Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Canada, USA, Guam,
New Caledonia, Niue, American Samoa, and as far flung as Italy.
The spectacular Motu2motu race in Aitutaki, the 36km
changes race between Aitutaki’s beautiful motu follows the week of Vaka Eiva,
an event which fast fills up each year.
On Tuesday, November 28, the popular Trader Jacks
Boiler Swim will be held which sees funds raised for a chosen charity each
year, this year will be for the Maui fire victims that destroyed Lahaina in
Vaka Eiva is recognised as one of the most fun events
on the international paddling calendar with what is known to be an amazing week
of paddling, festivities, friendship and fun.
Paddlers will not only face the physical demands of
the race but also draw inspiration from and connect to Cook Islands culture.
It is one of the most successful annual sporting
events in the Cook Islands contributing millions of dollars to the country’s
Everyone would agree Vaka Eiva wouldn’t be what it is
without the many volunteers.
The Cook Islands Canoeing Association wishes to
acknowledge those who have put their hands up to assist, some of who work from
dawn to dusk to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for all.
The weeklong event sees paddlers compete across
various races including fun V6 6km races, V6 and V1 12km iron challenges,
junior lagoon day, and the prestigious and gruelling Round Raro relay.
The festival kicks off this afternoon with the
welcoming and blessing ceremonies of canoes at the paddling hub in Traders