Hawaiki Nui Va’a Outrigger Canoe Race, Part IV

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BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA – Calm seas grace the final leg of the great outrigger canoe race, but mayhem erupts at the finish when officials penalize a team and take away its trophy.

The unsponsored Matairea team with a borrowed canoe finishes third overall behind OPT and Shell. As they prepare to accept their trophy, word comes down that an alleged violation by a spectator boat will result in a penalty, eliminating Matairea from the top standings.


A brawl ensues as the crowd protests the officials and everyone jumps into the fight, including the Mayor of Huahine, the island home of Matairea. Penalizing a team for the conduct of a spectator boat does not seem fair to anyone. The awards ceremony abruptly halts as angry friends and families join the fray.

“Teri Tico Tahiti 5 centered”

When the dust settles, the third place trophy is returned to Matairea and order is restored. One racer comments, “This is