Vaka Eiva is not only enticing new visitors to Rarotonga, but overseas-based Cook Islanders are returning home for Oe Vaka too.
Cook Islander Beal Vogel Beal has been living in Australia for most of his life but now he’s back on Rarotonga to compete in the Vaka Eiva races for the first time.
Beal who has been away from the Cook Islands for almost twenty years, originally came back for his mother’s unveiling but decided to stay longer to have the opportunity to be a part of Vaka Eiva.
Back in Australia, Vogel is only seven minutes away from the sea and has been a part of his local canoeing club in Cairns.
He spends time on the water before and after work or whenever he’s free.
“It’s important to me and it means a lot to him to be a part of Vaka Eiva. It’s how our people travelled between islands and even discovered Rarotonga,” says Beal.
“For overseas-based Cook Islanders, it’s good for us to come back and support the event.”
Beal will be paddling in the 40-and-over mix, the V6 iron race and the open men’s singles and is hoping to get a set in the Round Raro relay race before he flies out.
The V1 paddle will be the most challenging race, he says.
His paddling preparation has been getting fit on the water and off the water.
“It’s great to come back home and reset,” says Beal.
He loves the sport because it’s not an impact sport like rugby. There are people more than 70 years’ old who are still paddling and really enjoying it, he says.