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Bora Bora Liquid Festival

Here is a brief overview of the Liquid Festival and why you should participate:

  • A competitive festival run in a refreshingly casual atmosphere.
  • An unbeatable way to see the best lagoon in the world.
  • A unique opportunity to participate in life as the locals live and to see Bora Bora as ‘a local’ rather than a tourist.

For 5 days prior to the opening of the Bora Bora Liquid Festival, five traditional Polynesian sailing outrigger canoes clearly better suited to the calm waters of the lagoon sailed over 400km in the high seas between Tahiti & Bora Bora via Moorea, Huahine & Tahaa.

It’s an impressive voyage that symbolizes the spirit of the festival and the celebration of water sports & of the Polynesian culture.

Despite the flimsy look, the craft is relatively strong and given their lightweight, dual outriggers & ‘paddling option’ perform well in most conditions.

The 40km or so leg from Tahaa to Bora Bora was sailed in ideal conditions – 15 knots from behind with a following swell – takes 9.5hours to complete.

Never have I seen crews so keen to reach the cocktail party that awaited them ashore! Here’s a shot of the first of the craft to arrive in Bora Bora giving you a feel for what the crew undertook:


The Bora Bora Liquid Festival, now in its 13th consecutive year, is organized by Stephan Lambert who has a pedigree more associated with Roland Garros than with waterways.

The festival brings together some of the world’s best male & female athletes showcasing modern and traditional Polynesian water sport disciplines in the world’s most beautiful lagoon.

Liquid events include competition in sailing outriggers, single-man outrigger canoes, surf-skis, stand-up paddling (SUP), swimming &, of course, happy hour!

Competitors line up before the outrigger canoe race & the running start for the event, followed by a shot at the transition of the swim-SUP race and the girl in the shot was actually second out of the water!

outrigger race-bora-bora

While competition on the water is fierce, the event does not stop there. There are activities for everyone – relay races, a kids program where children receive free tuition in the various disciplines from the experts, live entertainment, DJ’s, sunset yoga & BBQs on the beach, zumba & tamure  (Tahitian dance) shows and a variety of tours & excursions open to everyone.

Yes, as the name implies the event spills over onto the powdery white sands of Bora Bora with beach parties, dinner parties and more happy hours!

The setting, needless to say, is sensational & offers a wide variety of courses with mountain scenery and a lagoon full of fish, reef-sharks & rays scenery in water colours which will simply knock you out!

It’s all set around the interlinked Sofitel Marara & Sofitel Island Resorts which ensures your every comfort is supplied. Check out the local-style outrigger below, the crew enjoying the events:


Stephan has got the mix pretty well right with participants feeling very much ‘at home’, where there’s a great sense of camaraderie. The festival runs in an atmosphere of fierce competition mixed with much good-will:


Events are conducted daily in all disciplines but the distance increases sharply at times each day. On the day ‘before the big one’  a race against the clock is conducted where competitors undertake 100m sprints in each discipline linked by beach runs of a similar distance in a both demanding and enjoyable event.

Most competitors have undertaken either a 5km or a grueling 25km swim in the morning; the heart alternating between pumping blood to the upper body or down to the legs can see some whither in the final leg.

Here, in order, is the exhausted finish of the first & second placegetters:


In the shot above you can’t help but notice the official photographer with his homemade camera stabilizer. Better still was the equipment he used in the water events including having his camera jet-propelled 70kgs & capable of 15km/hr underwater magic.


On the final day the festival’s signature event, the Ironmana SUP 35km sees only the finest paddlers finish what they started after more than 4 hours!

There’s an associated race around the island in V1 outrigger canoes run simultaneously from stunning Matira Beach – the outriggers complete the course in under 2 hours. Here’s the start of the Ironmana SUP 35km:

“When the race gets hard to run, it means you just can’t take the pace” – Bob Marley, & the Festival’s motto.

  • Seize the chance to grab a great holiday package at the Sofitel Bora Bora’s two interlinked Resorts during the running of the event, participant or spectator.