For decades, races were organized in the lagoon and on short distances, so tahitian paddlers weren’t used to long distance races. Their successive failures at the Moloka’i Hoe led the tahitians to create challenging races that were meant to build strong athletes.
In 1988, Charley Maitere and Mara Aitaimai created the Te Aito race (15km). The objective was to improve the individual performances in long distance. In 1992, sixteen years after the victory of Oropa’a, team Faa’a wins the Moloka’i Hoe. Half of the crew were in the top 10 of the Te Aito.
Te Aito participation :
- 1988 : 88 athletes
- 1989 : 250 athletes
- 2017 : 1000 athletes including 200 international
Hawaiki Nui Va’a
Edouard Maamaatuaiahutapu wanted to go further and create an even difficult race so in 1992 the 1st eddition of the Hawaiki Nui va’a took place. It’s a race of 120km divided in 3 stages connecting Huahine, Tahaa, Raiatea and Bora Bora. The Hawaiki Nui is one of the most difficult races in the world.
Hawaiki Nui participation :
- 1992 : 30 teams
- 1993 : 60 teams
- 1995 : Creation of the women’s stage
- 1998 : Creation of a under 18 stage
- 2017 : 138 teams including 11 international
The professionalisation of the sport
Over the years, those events became a reference in the Va’a world. Canoes and paddles are carefully designed to improve performances. The techniques evolves and teams revamp trainings and physical preparations. Local companies either invest in a team or create their own.