Team Shell Va’a (Tahiti) - Nominee for the 2018 Team Award
Represents: Tahiti, Sport: Outrigger Canoe (Va’a)
- Molokai Hoe Championship Title (11th title in the past 13 years) and second world record
- First, Hawiki Nui (Tahiti)
- The winning crew included Damas Ami, Paiateuira Tamaititahio, Iorama Teahu, James Mairau, Isidore Tevaearai, Narai Atger, Charles Teinauri and Ta‘aroa Dubois.
- Hawaiki Nui (Tahiti) - Second
For more than a decade, Tahiti’s Shell Va’a outrigger canoeing team has been dominating this open-ocean sport, most recently winning both the 2018 Hawaiki Nui 128-kilometer, three-day marathon in Tahiti and the prestigious 42-mile Molokai Hoe title in Hawaii - the latter with a field of more than 1000 entries. The Tahitian team’s victory in the Molokai Hoe was their 11th in the past 13 years, an unrivaled milestone in the sport of outrigger canoe racing.
Second only to football, the Molokai Hoe has become one of the longest-running annual team sporting events in Hawaii. It celebrates one of Hawaii and Polynesia’s most important and historic cultural traditions, while honoring outrigger canoe paddlers around the world, testing the limits of physical and mental strength, as well as endurance, courage and teamwork while battling nature’s most extreme limits. The canoes used for the race are roughly 40 feet long by two feet wide and weigh about 400 lbs each. Teams consist of six paddlers per canoe. 2018 marked the Molokai Hoe’s 66th crossing of the treacherous Ka’iwi Channel, attracting competitors from Hawaii and the United States mainland, as well as Australia, Tahiti, New Zealand, England, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan.
The team trains rigorously, work all day at the Shell Petroleum Fuel Depot in Papeete and in turn are on the company paddling team. Training tirelessly every morning and afternoon, they are on the ocean paddling relentlessly when they aren't working out at the gym or running up a mountain.
Outrigger canoeing, also known as va’a, is the national sport of Tahiti, site of the annual Hawaiki Nui race, an extreme three-day event covering almost 130 kilometers and four islands.
This traditional marathon dates back to pre-European times, when Polynesians used the va’a for fishing, transporting families and food supplies, discovering new lands, and other daily activities.
“[Outrigger canoe] racing is special for us because it’s part of our culture. Our ancestors travelled from one island to another by va’a and now it’s our national sport. Va’a is the best kind of drug for me. I love it and I’m absolutely addicted.” - Shell Va’a Team Member
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