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Waterman Tahiti Tour

The Waterman Tahiti Tour, made its debut back in 2014, extending the Bora Bora Ironmana Liquid Festival. Now in its 24thth consecutive year, to a National event with International competitors.

The event is staged at the stunning Sofitel Marara Resort, built by the famous cinematographer Dino De Laurentiis during the filming of ‘Hurricane’. Mia Farrow, Jason Robards, Max Von Sydow, Trevor Howard, Timothy Bottoms & James Keach, to name but a few, all stayed here.

Needless to say, it’s a sensational position with panoramic vistas over the world’s best lagoon and on to Raiatea & Tahaa.

Waterman Tahiti Tour view

Looking out across the swimming pool from the Sofitel Marara Resort to the inviting Sofitel Island Resort shows the relative positioning of the two resorts.

Sofitel Marara Resort

The Waterman Tahiti Tour is a series of 6 major competitions conducted throughout the year in Tahiti & Moorea.

It culminates in the final in Bora Bora in early December. Disciplines as diverse as V1 Va’a (single-man outrigger canoes), surf-ski, SUP (stand-up paddle), paddle-boarding, ocean water swimming, horizontal free-diving & even tests in life-saving techniques are undertaken.

It marks the ultimate gathering in Tahiti of the world’s best in human propulsion aquatic sports.

Those competing included reigning Olympic Kayak Gold Medalist & winner of almost 20 World & World Cup titles, Hungarian Krisztina Fazekas-Zur & World Champion paddle-boarder American Carter Graves, who previously won the prestigious Molokai 2 Oahu (Carter left with Krisztina in the center).

Gold medalists

Australian Greg Welch is here. Perhaps the greatest triathlete of all times, Greg dominated World Triathlons in the 1990s winning ‘The Grand Slam” – the World Championships, the Ironman World Championships, the Duathlon World Championships & the Long Course Triathlon World Championships.

Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he incredibly underwent 9 open heart surgeries between 2001-2003.


Legendary SUP Morgan Hoesterey is a renowned Marathon swimmer Grace Van der Byl. Duthman Bart de Zwart, a local hero having crossed from Tahiti to Bora Bora non-stop, solo and without any support vessel on a SUP. Battling cold & fatigue, the epic outing took Bart 4 days & 3 nights.

Here’s one of Bart’s photos from the crossing, Bora Bora’s Mt Otemanu in the background – staggering to think that he lived on the paddle day & night for 4 days & 3 nights.

Paddle boarding

The Ironmana is the centerpiece of the week’s activities in Bora Bora. A highly competitive test for elite water endurance athletes, the winner is determined by a point score tallied on each competitor’s performance in every discipline disputed during the festival.

The approach ensures fierce competition from the outset. The events & courses change annually and organizer Stephan Lambert loves the element of surprise, to say the very least!

During the Bora Bora Ironmana Liquid Festival, aside from the Tour Championships & the Ironman there are fun relay races, kids programs, beach-side live entertainment & traditional Tahitian dance (tamure) shows.

The Bora Bora Ironmana Liquid Festival puts much back into the community. It’s extremely satisfying to see elite international athletes giving freely of their time to local adolescents in a series of ‘fun’ exercises involving the various disciplines undertaken in the competition.

Here are some photos from this year’s introduction to water sports for the kids. The excited look on their faces says it all.

kids watersports
Kids sailing

Racing under a watchful eye:

Racing in water
Paddle boarding in water

The Bora Bora final brings together modern and traditional Polynesian water-sport disciplines. In a celebration of water sports & Tahitian culture, the event opens with the Crossing of the Ocean between Tahiti & Bora Bora via Moorrea, Huahine, Raiatea & Tahaa in sailing canoes. It’s 6 islands in 8 days packed with action & adventure:

Peaceful sailing

A ‘fun’ 4 person team sprint event encompassing beach running, swimming, SUP & paddleboard but with a different slant in that, all 4 team members were required to paddle together on the same board to the finish got participants into the spirit of the occasion.

Participants swimming

All aboard and 4 to a board. It’s not as easy as it looks.

People getting on paddle board

Nor the dash home, board in hand:

Running with paddle board

Warmed up from the fun sprint, competitors in the Ironman immediately repeated the course in a Championship Waterman Combo Sprint, completing each leg individually this time around. It is readily apparent that this Waterman Tahiti Tour is serious stuff for those competing!


To conclude the day’s hostilities, a 15km paddleboard race involving circumnavigating the Sofitel Island Resort islands, twice! It’a a very special setting, quite captivating.

A piece of paradise blessed with wonderful snorkeling in the world’s best lagoon, with the spirituality of the Society Islands and with Mt Otemanu majestically over-looking all.

Participants competing

No doubt you noticed the drone in the top left corner of the above photo.

Various & varied events ensue over 4 days, including a marathon swim starting from the absolutely drop-dead beautiful sands off Motu Roa.

Motu Roa

The swim takes competitors over the stunning lagoon past some of the world’s very best Resorts with their legendary over-water bungalows for which Bora Bora is world famous.

Past the Intercontinental Thalasso Spa & Resort & on to the Meridien Bora Bora before running over powder-white sands to the St Regis Bora Bora. From the St Regis a return swims to the Sofitel Marara, passing the spot where large numbers of majestic manta rays gather. It’s a sight one will never forget.

Other events included a great race by paddleboard from Sofitel Marara to Sofitel Island, a swim around the island, then a run to the island’s summit hills, before returning to the Sofitel Marara to repeat it all again on SUP.

Some shots from the Waterman Tahiti Tour paddleboard start to wet your appetite:

Waterman Tahiti Tour paddleboard

Morning dawned to another beautiful day on Bora Bora & the Ironman, a 40km SUP race around the island was underway. A shot to give you a feel for what you missed.

SUP race

Bob Marley penned the event’s motto – ‘When the race gets hard to run, it is just you can not take the pace”. He may well have had the Waterman Tahiti Tour event in mind whilst penning “Is This Love”.