Saturday, August 24, 2013 by Daniel Naidu
ABOUT 30 local sailors took part in the annual Veitau Waqa traditional canoe race which was held yesterday as part of the 2013 Hibiscus Festival celebrations.
The wet weather experienced by the Capital City this week was replaced with sunshine and blue skies which saw a large crowd, including the Hibiscus queen contestants, turn up to watch the event.
Roko Sau Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba, the Pacific Blue Foundation’s government and community relations director, said the response from the crowd was fantastic.
“It’s a very unique event and we’ve got a lot of attention from the community,” Mr Cinavilakeba said.
He said the sailors were mostly from Lau, adding the success of the event proved the art of building and sailing traditional canoes was still alive.
“We want to pass this knowledge to the next generation. We don’t want to lose these skills,” he said.
“I think the important thing is that as our elders are getting older, we must utilise their potential.”
Mr Cinavilakeba is already looking forward to a bigger and better race next year, which he hopes will see a race for the Fijian drua.
“Today we have the bakanawa canoes for the children and the camakau, which is mainly used for racing.
“The ocean-crossing drua can take 200-500 people.”
Mr Cinavilakeba had a second reason to celebrate when his son, Ratu Isoa Gavidi, won the children’s bakanawa race.
This year’s turnout of 10 camakau and 45 bakanawa is a record for the competition, which was established in 2010 to coincide with the Hibiscus Festival.
The event was opened by the founder of Pacific Blue Foundation, Dr Greg Mitchell, an American scientist whose fascination with traditional sailing skills led to the revival of the camakau, which is mainly used for fishing in the islands.
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