Tahiti Pearl Regatta – 2015 Update
The Tahiti Pearl Regatta – 2015, the 12th consecutive running of this the largest & most prestigious sailing event of its kind in the South Pacific, will get under way on 28th April & run, well sail, through to 2nd May. The event will bring together 35-40 boats, 16 of them sailed by international teams who will sail in various races between Raiatea, Tahaa & Huahine. Amongst the fleet certain craft sailing in an around the world regatta, others simply hired locally by teams from as far afield as the USA & Japan. It is 3 days of racing staged between 2 days of leisure – a sailing event with a festive undertone.
Here’s one way to do the event that would be hard to beat – Twizzle, the 18th largest yacht in the world, recently for sale at just under $US55million & available for charter – moored off Bloody Mary’s in Bora Bora:
The event is without doubt the best way to promote the magnificent sailing available in the Leeward Islands as well as a chance for those sailing to participate in local cultural activities & witness the diversity of the islands concerned.
This raises the question of why the regatta will not sail this year to Bora Bora, none other than the world’s most beautiful island; a question made all the more interesting as it is the sailors themselves who vote during the course of the year following the running of each regatta on the course to be sailed the following year. The efforts of Raiatea, Tahaa & Huahine which recently installed 17 new ecologically friendly mooring sites in key touristic settings so as to attract nautical tourism has clearly paid dividends.
Tahiti Pearl Regatta – The Bora Leg
In ideal downwind running conditions 22 official entries accompanied by an equal number of craft simply out to enjoy the sail brought the fleet to in excess of 40 yachts. What better way could there be than to celebrate the 1st May, Labor Day Holiday participating in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta sailing arguably the world’s best island passages.
The race would start in overcast conditions through the photogenic Paipai Pass opposite Tiva on Tahaa’s west coast offering a stunning panorama of the prize ahead – Bora Bora:
It’s difficult to depart Raiatea/Tahaa – the sailing in the lagoon which surrounds both islands is amongst the best in the world – but the draw of Bora Bora, of the world’s most beautiful lagoon, is very powerful. There’s a certain magnificence to pulling away from Paipai Pass:
The more competitive members of the fleet were quick to set their spinnakers & literally surf their way to Bora Bora in a tick over 2 hours. It was a monohull, seen here above the catamaran who would cross the line first with 2 large catamarans in pursuit:
This is the best sailing offering all aboard the thrills of speed sailing whilst with one eye on the sails having the other taking in the sensational island scenery. Some photos looking back at the boats, the first as they pass Matira, then passing Motu Tapu & finally approaching Teavanui Pass:
The goal was to be first to the entrance Teavanui Pass, Bora Bora’s only pass. There, in a display of sportsmanship & the ‘fun’ philosophy of this race, those first to arrive calmly await those taking matters at a more leisurely pace. And what a place it is to wait entering the turquoise waters for which Bora Bora is famous flanked by Motu Ahuna & the sacred Motu Tapu whilst being in awe of the magnificence of Mt Otemanu:
The craft would make their way down to the Mai Kai to moor & prepare for the night’s events:
The craft behind the 2 glistening white catamarans above is the support vessel on which a local band belted the toeres (local percussion instruments) to welcome participants across the finish line; the white catarmerans themselves moored against the backdrop of a cloud shrouded Mt Pahia:
A big night was in stall with seating in place for over 240 for the dinner & prize-giving. A shot of the pool area beside the restaurant; there were so many tables some flowed out into the pool area & through the entrance hall:
It was a big night which only added to the challenge of the more difficult return leg the next day – homeward bound into the breeze.