Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based)

Island Regatta

Just about everything that would float came out and participated in the regatta.  

The pilot/rescue boat Tokerau. The man at right has just launched a parachute flare to start an outrigger canoe race.  

Later that same afternoon (and again the next afternoon) the islanders held a regatta in the waters off Hanga Roa. It was an interesting nautical spectacle, and just about everything that would float came out and participated: single-person outrigger canoes, multi-person outrigger canoes, Laser sailing dinghies, several inflatable boats, pangas, the pilot/rescue boat Tokerau, plus a local cruising sailboat from Hanga Piko. Nine of Cups and the submarine Simpson were right in the middle of the regatta, though we both stayed at anchor.

They held a number of outrigger canoe races including separate races for men's and women's teams. The single person canoes were very fast, much faster than my Klepper kayak. They paddled them with a single-bladed canoe paddle and probably could have gone even faster with a double-bladed kayak paddle. The single canoes were also quite a bit faster than the multi-person canoes, which was surprising. After the end of one race, one of the multi-person canoes capsized while maneuvering, but nobody seemed upset and they patiently waited for other boats to come by and pick them up.

The pilot/rescue boat had lots of people aboard, including a few navy officials, a crewperson with flares, and a soldier with a rifle. As a race was about to start, the official announced a two-minute warning over the loudhailer and the race boats lined up on the start line. The official then announced a one minute warning, then 30 seconds, then five seconds, then on your mark, get set, go! At that moment, the crewperson with the flares fired off a parachute flare that rocketed skyward and burst overhead, then slowly drifted downward while burning bright red. Some time later, as the contestants raced back to the finish line, the soldier with the rifle would fire a shot into the air as each boat crossed the finish line. It was funny watching the officials standing near the soldier. As a race boat drew up to the finish line, they would all clamp their hands over their ears just before the soldier fired the shot.

While the canoes and Lasers were racing, the cruising sailboat from Hanga Piko sailed around the area, obviously just enjoying a day of good sailing weather. On the second day of the regatta, the winds were light but the Laser sailing dinghies still skimmed along speedily.

At the end of the first day's regatta, a couple of people in recreational kayaks paddled over to Nine of Cups and we invited them aboard for a visit. They were two natives from the island, a man and a woman, and the woman was in-training for outrigger canoe racing; she was out paddling to build up strength. She spoke English well, and it turns out she had lived in the States for a while and has an American husband who is a famous surfer and movie producer (not the man who was with her today who is a paddling companion). She was friendly and pretty and quite charming. Amazingly enough, she was the same woman we had seen days earlier at Anakena doing warm-up exercises on the beach by the water.

Two big outrigger canoes; the left canoe is from the men's team, the right canoe is from the women's team.

A big canoe passes by Nine of Cups.  

This is the Rapa Nui girl in the recreational kayak who visited us aboard Nine of Cups (along with her paddling companion).

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