The following images are from 2017 Matson Vaka Eiva a festival hosted by The Cook Islands Canoeing Association annually for the past 14 years. It was a privilege to be invited as the Aloe Up Sponsor to experience Cook Island culture and hospitality.
Highlights included watching our Aloe Up Ambassador Serena Hunter (Te Tupu) win the women's 12km race time 1.02.05
1st Open Men's 12k Race Andre Tutako-George (Te Tupu) time 50.45.68
I had the opportunity to experience the power, skill and determination of paddlers from the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Norfolk Island and the USA ocean racing 36 km around Raro from the comfort of the Akura Fishing boat! Thank you Skipper and Crew.
Ngakau Toa Vaka team NTV
The 1.5 meter solid swell created challenging conditions for the mixed round Raro relay.
Ngakau Toa Vaka open mixed team NTV have the home advantage and seemed pretty comfortable in the big surf.
South Side of Raro - an outstanding landscape
Senior Masters Mixed winning team Cook Islands team Te Tupu
Winning open mixed team NTV paddling in the wild South Side in 1.5meter + swell
3 team NTV paddlers swapping over
This was exciting to watch and remarkably quick especially considering the conditions.
The NTV Support boat has picked up the 3 paddles from the surf - how's this for air?
Close up of young paddles from the NTV team
Teams have 10 paddlers rotating paddling every 30 minutes or so.
Team NTV heading down a 1.5 meter wave
Team NTV win with a time of 3.16.11
Aloe Up Ambassadors Serena Hunter and Shannon Saunders place 2nd in the mixed open Round Raro with their team Te Tupu in 3.25.45
Coming home in the calmer waters in 4th place Cook Island Team Te Mana with a time of 4.00.02
Â Supporting sponsor Pacific Resort's Wedding Events Co-ordinator Taou loving the Aloe Up lip Balm
Supporting Sponsors appreciated the Aloe Up Pro Sport and Lipbalms during the 5 hours on the Sponsors Boat Akura
New Zealand Whakatu Marae Waka Ama Club Team Rehutai place 3rd in the open mixed Round Raro 36km relay with a time of 3.31.39
New Zealand Porirua CanoeÂ Kayak Club Team PCKC Pakau Tau place 5th in the open mixed Round Raro with a time of 4.14.33
A Vaka under tow
Australian Master Mix Team Mixed Nuts finish 2nd in the Master Mix with a time of 4.42.28
Australian Mixed Masters team Tweed Coast 5th time 4.53.51 that is a long time to be paddling in very challenging conditions, they inspiredÂ me to take up Waka Ama in Dunedin NZ
The Round Raro Men's and Women's division course was changed for safety reasons and was held on the calmer North Side of the Island. The experienced NZ paddlers from Team Kina took an early narrow lead from Cook Island team Boiler Boys. They were neck and neck for some time but the Boiler Boys had the local advantage and won in a time of 2.29.25.
Team Kina took a well deserved close second in just 2.31.07
Cook Island open women's team NTV maintained their early lead finishing 1st in a time of 3.04.28
Boiler Babe Team Members on their support boat very happy to have won their race.
Our Aloe Up Ambassadors Serena Hunter and Shannon Saunder Team Tupu/Live Free Boiler Babes finished second just 4 minutes behind Team NTV in 3.08.15.
Congratulations to Shannon Saunders finishing 1st In the 700m Gold Coin Charity Boilers Swim for Autism Cook Islands in just 12.10. Above Shannon 2nd right is with fellow team swimmers.
The official opening was the start of 5 days of superb Cook Island hospitality and celebration of Cook Island culture. We enjoyed the sounds of the Avarua School Teachers string brand as a special kaikai was served followed by a spectacular performance from the Akirata Cultural Group
We were entertained again at the closing ceremony and again outstanding kai.
Â Serena is very proud of her husband Conrad who after a good number of years focusing on Kiteboarding took just 4 months of pretty intense training with his team Boiler Boys to take out the 2017 Matson Vaka Eiva Open Mens 36k Title. Serena placed 1st in the 12k open women's race, 2nd in the round Raro mixed team race and 2nd in the open women's 36k race.
Winning Open's Womens 36k Race Team just prior to the prize giving
Team Boiler Babes lead by Serena Hunter congratulations Team NTV leader Joyce Fortes.
Team NTV - the young woman on the left steerer Loana Puna is a very promising athlete.
This Haka was a very moving demonstration of respect to The Cook Islands Canoeing Association.
Aloe Up is a very small player in the Sun Screen market making quality reef friendly products specifically for athletes. We have been able to support Vaka Eiva because CITC pharmacist Shannon Saunders loves and supports Aloe Up. Thank you very much Shannon it was a pleasure to be the official sunscreen for the 2017 Manson Vaka Eiva - we will be back next year.
High quality copies of these photos and hundreds more are available to anyone for personal use just copy the link below and paste into your browser.