Big Fun at Regatta Vava’u
After nearly a week of nonstop fun and frivolity, the second annual Regatta Vava’u and Festival drew to a close yesterday with its final awards ceremony. The event — which is the brainchild of former Bay Area sailors Ben and Lisa Newton — drew 45 cruising boats from more than a dozen nations, most of which will soon jump off for New Zealand in advance of the South Pacific cyclone season.
We flew in to join the fun just in time to take part in the ‘fancy dress’ pub crawl, where cruisers — many of whom normally head for bed shortly after sundown — showed amazing stamina, as the crawl snaked through the streets of Neiafu, stopping at practically every watering hole in this tiny waterfront town.
Two days of fleet racing allowed boats of all types to strut their stuff without getting too serious. The longer course on Saturday threaded through Vava’u’s distinctive maze of heavily forested islands, and ended at one of the area’s many uninhabited bays. That night, fleet members got decked out in their finest pirate garb for the full moon party in a special venue that had been carved out from the jungle only days before. The hardiest revelers raged on until the wee hours.
After a peaceful day of rest on Sunday — in keeping with Tonga’s strong religious traditions — mixed teams of sailors competed in a full day’s worth of games and "silliness" that ended in a hilarious pie-eating contest on Monday. Amazingly, the winner choked down 10 of them!
The islands of Tonga’s Vava’u group comprise one of the most idyllic cruising grounds in the South Pacific, and Neiafu’s well-protected anchorage is said to be the best hurricane hole along the so-called cruiser milk run. Given those facts, and the Regatta’s ‘everybody wins’ attitude, we’d highly recommend that future Pacific cruisers make it a high priority to visit these unspoiled islands, which were dubbed "the friendly islands" by Captain Cook, and still live up to that name.
Although next year’s Regatta dates have yet to be announced, it will take place in roughly the same time frame. Check out the website for further info and this year’s, and future, events.
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