Vava'u, Tonga. Parties, Dinghy Racing, Feasts and beach BarBQ's

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Tue 24 Jun 2008 14:12

Despite the dull overcast weather, our Rally Controller, Richard Bolt pressed on with various distractions for our edification and entertainment!


The first of these was a Party at the Paradise Hotel. This is “the” hotel in Neiafu. The name is somewhat Estate Agent speak! It was a lovely setting and 20 years ago it was probably rather special. But it still has charm in a 1960’s sort of shabby way. The reception cum entertainment cum buffet was in the main reception/Ballroom. This was in fact a large shed like structure which was attached to the main hotel building, but open on two sides.


The local primary school provided dancers to treat us to some native dancing and they were supported by some local “worthies”. The BWR group were as ever generous to the kids, and then we fell on the buffet. The bar was somewhat limited and in fact we completely drunk them out of wine, quite early in the evening. Dancing was to a 1960/70’s style disco and a great time was had by all. (No pics here due to dreadful photography that night!)


Next up was the dinghy race. This was to take place at Moorings anchorage number 11, also known as Ano Beach, on the Island of Pangaimotu. This was a half day sail from the main harbour in Neiafu. As Bob & Phyllis from Gaia did not have a working engine and were waiting for parts to be couriered out to Tonga, we offered to take them with us, So off we went, towing two dinghies. Once anchored in the bay,  our rally controller announced the rules for the dinghy race. No engines. Only one oar/paddle allowed, Anything at all to be used as a sail(s), except a sail and a maximum of three crew. We had the heavy dinghy erected, and were pondering what to do, when Rally Control requested that they commandeer it as a “safety boat”.  I agreed on the basis that I be official photographer for the event. Jennie then joined Bob & Phyllis on their dinghy with some very ingenious sails.


It was strictly a down wind course from one beach, through the anchored boats across the bay to the next beach.  So there was a Le mans style racing start from the beach.



  The Racing Start


The sails employed were an eclectic collection of detritus from the yachts. Wind Scoops, Bed Spreads, Umbrellas, awnings secured to poles and boat hooks. You name it, it was there!



               The Race is on!



Some teams really “got in to” the spirit of the event. The Danish team from Lousill dressed as Vikings and at one stage one of the crew took to the water and started swimming whilst towing the boat behind them……….great effort but a total failure!!!



  Team Neva in action…….not sure what Dorothy was doing inside the tent?


Whilst the racers charged across the bay, Richard, Boot and I zipped in amongst them and adjudicated who was cheating and who had unfair advantages. It is certainly the case that some crews were very imaginative with their interpretation of the rules. So, we decided to take an active role in providing a level playing field as it were. This involved going alongside any dinghy we felt needed attention. Then grabbing it and towing it off course, or backwards or out to sea. Whatever took Richard’s fancy! Sometimes we just hurled water at them.


     Eric and Marianna …the umbrella Twistle rig winning the day


Other times we just harassed them….especially the leading dinghies.



  Team Paramour “power” down the course to second place



Sadly Team Gaia Zippy found that twin Wind Scoops with no rudder was very fast…..but in the wrong direction!


   Phyllis holds the rig aloft, whist Jennie paddles for all she is worth!


Sometimes we got a little carried away with the towing penalties. So much so we had to rescue the “Little Rascals” after the race was over, due to the fact they were on there way to Fiji!


  Hang on Sylvia!!


Eric and Marianne were the proud winners and we all congratulated them on a well deserved first place on Ano Beach.


  The Winners!!


It was a wonderful event, A real hoot and a lift for everyone. Well done Richard, a great idea, well executed.



Ano Beach  was to be the site of the Tongan Feast that evening. But the locals laid on a mini Craft market before hand as well as beer sales, so some Ralliers lingered longer in the afternoon drizzle!



Now at this point I have realised that I have completely blown my photo budget!  This will be a huge file, and I am not sure that Mailasail will cope with it. But I will try. The second instalment of this epic will follow shortly.