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Va’a Outrigger Canoe Championships

In the recent World Va’a Outrigger Canoe Championships conducted in Rio, Brazil, Tahiti won 31 of the 55 events contested. To be that dominant at the international level in outrigger canoe racing against countries such as Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada is an incredible performance.

Tahiti’s paddlers included 10 from Bora Bora. They would win 5 gold, a silver & a bronze medal between them in an exceptional performance for an island with a population of only 10000 people. Victories at this highest level of competition were achieved in a wide variety of disciplines, including the V1, V12, V6 (500m) & V6 (1500m).


Teraivetea Taruoura captains the victorious woman’s V6 team trained by her pastor father. The team trains out of the beautiful, well stunningly spectacular, Matira Beach. A few shots for those who don’t know Matira taken from the same vantage point & showing firstly how things look for the morning paddle and then the afternoon sunset slot. It’s hard to imagine that training could be such a pleasure!


I watched them train day & night on water & land, paddling, running, working on their technique, fitness & power. It’s a team soldered by a great sense of hard work, commitment & comradery. But it takes something special to win at the highest level:

Va'a canoe training

The shot shows the team training at Matira with their pastor/coach seated to one side. His daughter on the other from where detailed instructions were given. You can see 2 girls ‘balancing’ the pirogue (outrigger) with a rope trailing the canoe.

This rope was firmly attached to a beachside coconut tree. Could this be the secret to success – the set-up provided an excellent way for the coach to fine-tune paddling technique, to check the position of paddlers & to assess their real power & how to improve upon it.

The next World Va’a Championships will take place in Australia in 2016. Bora Bora has applied to the International Federation of Va’a to host the 2018 World Championships – Gooooo Bora Bora!

The 10 girls departed Bora Bora for Molokai (Hawaii) yesterday, 15th September. They will compete on 21st September in the 37th running of the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, a 41 mile (67km), V6 (10 paddlers) va’a ocean race for woman from Hale O Lono, Molokai crossing the Kaiwi Channel to arrive on Fort DeRussy Beach on the island of Oahu:


Training for the World Championships has taken place in relatively protected waters & for events up to 1500m. The 66km Na Wahine O Ke Kai in open waters is another ‘beast’ & has seen the girls undertaking training runs between Bora Bora & Tahaa.