Bora Bora 2013The Bora Bora 2013
- 2013 Bora Bora Liquid Festival
Forty years ago, the advent of outboarder engines triggered the extinction of the Polyynesian boat. However, around the turn of the millennium, the Parisian Stephan Lambert reintroduced a fibreglass model of the small, manoeuvrable Hawaiian vessel and took it to Bora Bora. For the past three years, a small army of sailboats has participated in the opening ceremony of a water sports event in Polynesia, France, which began on a 270-mile cruise across the open sea between Tahiti and Bora Bora.
Those vessels are now an integral part of this meeting about traditions, adventures, endurance and of course, Bora Bora from your basket-record. The photographer John Canning and the author Eric Hiss travelled to the Liquid Festival 2013 in Bora Bora, where they were with the participants at every stage of the competition.
Over the next seven nights our small army of locals, a fistful of US professional canoeists and a small team working on a documentation film are preparing for a 270 mile voyage from Tahiti to Bora Bora. There are five sailboats, all of them without tools or engines - just the brute force of the paddler, the winds and the sea.
Arriving in Bora is also a symbol of the opening of the Bora Bora Liquid and IronMana, an annual water sports event. The first stop for our canoe and cat after a four-hour drive from Tahiti is Moorea. The wind is favourable and the sailboats are surfing like a dolphin on the ocean.
We are fascinated by the sea with its colour of cyan, but when we approach the isle it is difficult to turn our gaze away from Moorea. Famous for its rising, prickly volcano tops and luxuriant steep slopes, Moorea is the kind of paradise we imagine when we imagine escaping to the South Seas.
It is also a Nirwana for kite surfers who take a breath of fresh air as we drop anchor in between the islands and a small privately owned motorcycle, one of the small islands on the edge of the cliff. Snorkeling at dusk before an isle festival and chalking it to a great outing. Shortly before sundown, the boats are towed to the shore near a notorious, bone-destroying windsurfing stop - now fortunately quiet - near the city of Fare.
Everybody is grateful for a little R&R on the Isle. We are greeted with songs from the Tahitians. The group of vahins, wrapped in soft sounds, singing and rocking from the scented tiaré bush. Funnily enough, the eldest of the islands tells us that we should be enjoying the festival they have arranged, but we should not be touching the mothers.
Sailboats stranded and moored in front of the Relais Mahana Beach Resort, a small jewel of 32 straw-roofed bungalow on the quiet Avea Bay at the southern tip of the isle. Racing and events designer Stephan Lambert ensured that the competitors could enjoy the genuine French Polynesian atmosphere.
Mornings after our Thanksgiving, it's customary to take these carburetors of pineapples and voids and burn them with a races from Avea Bay to a secluded sandy spot known as Hana Iti. The drivers come an hours later and we have the shore to ourselves. A 20-minute walk leads you over a scary pretext for a viaduct to a high foothills if you fancy a little adventurous experience.
However often you get to Bora Bora, the view of the penetrating sky of Monte Otemanu will awe you. Now, at the end of the oceanic part of the quest, the huge Bora Bora Laguna offers new adventures: This old-fashioned and perhaps the most technical of all tastes will take place on the one-man boom or OC-1, known as Va'a in Tahiti.
Tahitians ride without oars. Now, to the Bora Bora Liquid Circular Isle. Each year the fair launches different tracks of different length so that both domestic and foreign participants can start, but in the last five years the American champion athlete Alex Kostich (second from left) has been dominating every one.
Kostich, triple winner of the Pan American Games medal in L.A., dominated the pitch so much that he received a particular challange for last year's event: an exhibit that floats around the Isle. Kostich had a six-hour walk through strokes for strokes, over garden corals and past sting rays and canoeists, escorted by two native floats that were swimming in the sea while Alex was swimming.
When they all returned to the shore, the native floats breathed more heavily than Kostich. Bora Bora Liquid Festival is by no means a boys' club: The number of domestic and foreign sportswomen increases from year to year. As with the other top riders and perseverance sportsmen - George Plsek and Brennan Rose-, who took part in the 2013 edition, Kalmbach performed the good sports and took up any challenges she faced, as well as a SUP, belly paddle, surf ski and beachsprint outing.
" This comes from one of only five persons driving the whole of Hawaii on SEA. During the week-long activity one day, the children - natives and tourists - come to the beach at Sofitel Marara and use the latest water sports equipment and get advice from the professionals. Here a surrounding girls can turn on a Neisharbon SUP surfboard while being coach by Kalmbach.
IronMana, a mix of a West Iron Man or Ghost with the Polish word manifest the real manifestation of this week's contest - the contest is only with yourself and, quite honestly, the contest is an ass-kisser. By 2012 it was a 27K, Indy-style gear for Va'a, SUP and vulnerable paddle boards at the southern tip of the isle.
Issue 2013 included a discouraging 35K SUP and lying paddle board circuit islands event that defied the competitors to round Bora Bora. Everybody knows Bora Boras Superpaar, Moehau Goold and Uranui Chevalier. He is a top multi-year runner-up, but 2013 was his first place in the overall standings of the Men's Waterman Series, consisting of a 1, 3 and 5K swimming, a combined "Chronos" competition and a 3 and 5K SUP-races.
Sure, the Liquid Festival consists of some rather gruelling racing, but it's not just perspiration and endurance. Hey, it's Bora!