A place as dreamy and stunningly beautiful as Tahiti gets plenty of press. But the headlines made there last week were completely unique: The French Overseas Territory will soon be honored in the Guinness Book of World Records for having performed a song with the largest ukulele ‘orchestra’ ever. With a count of 4,750 musicians strumming in unison, this attempt more than doubled the previous record, set last year in England.
In an impressive and costly effort, players traveled to Papeete from many outlying islands to participate — even French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch joined the fun, as did dozens of other politicians. Needless to say, this was a photo op none wanted to miss. The criterion for breaking the record was that a song, in this case Bora Bora, had to be played in unison by the entire group for at least five minutes.
According to our associate Tehani Fiedler-Valente at the Tahiti Crew yacht agency, cruisers Tony Wessendorff and Gail Corrigan of the Houston, TX-based Cheoy Lee 53 Cetacea were also part of the action. Having sailed west with the 2014 fleet of Pacific Puddle Jumpers, they’ve had plenty of time to become acclimated to Polynesia’s rich cultural traditions, including playing the uke. Tehani says they practiced for 10 days straight so they wouldn’t embarrass themselves by screwing up the simple melody.
Tony and Gail joke about their 68,000-lb motorsailer, saying she looks like a beached whale. But the stout masthead sloop has taken them to the same eye-popping anchorages as the sleekest and fastest boats in the Pacific. Oh, and if you’ve been wondering if a fun-loving lifestyle is possible after corporate careers, take note that Tony was a CFO and Gail a CEO prior to casting off their docklines.