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Wednesday 17 November 2010 | Published in Regional


Mixed crews are this year racing around the island in pursuit of the Bob Worthington Memorial Mixed Trophy.

Last year, Te Tupu O Te Manava 2 won the trophy in the V6 Avana Iron Mixed Race – this year marks the first year that paddlers will circle the island to win Worthington’s namesake.

Mixed crews will tackle the Round Raro Race, an iconic Vaka Eiva challenge, on Thursday morning. The winning team will accept the Bob Worthington Memorial Mixed Trophy at Friday’s closing ceremony.

Winners of the men’s Round Raro earn the Pacific Cup; winning women collect the Pacific Paddle.

The mixed trophy honours the late Bob Worthington, who dedicated his life to promoting Polynesian culture and forging ties between Polynesian countries.

Worthington championed respect for the vaka and the sea and supported Vaka Eiva from its inception in 2004. In its inaugural year, he launched Vaka Eiva on to the international stage when he arranged for Ropati Hebenstreit, editor of the prestigious Pacific Paddler magazine, to attend and photograph the event.

For 35 years, Worthington was the Cook Islands Honorary Consul to the United States; he was a tireless advocate of the Cook Islands in all his dealings with the US government.

He served on the board of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and was instrumental in bringing to life the original Hokule’a voyages from Hawai’i.

Uncle Bob touched hundreds of lives – many Cook Islands students will remember his efforts to offer them educational opportunities through Kamehameha Schools in Hawai’i. Many of them went on to obtain higher education degrees and to become successful at what they do.

Worthington passed away in August 2008. His friends, family and colleagues will remember his passion for people – and the soft spot he had for the Cook Islands people.

The Bob Worthington Memorial Trophy is in the shape of a triangle, which represents both strength and the Pacific region, and features a parau shell representing the waves of the ocean and a pearl which represents Rarotonga.

It also sports a tikitikitangata motif, which symbolises people working together and the teamwork oe vaka requires.