French Polynesia captivates all who sail her sparkling blue waters. In addition to the stunning natural landscapes, and excellent sailing conditions, the ever present cultural influence is mesmerising. There are three distinctly different island groups (Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands) and they are all postcard picture perfect. The World ARC 2018/19 fleet departed the Marquesas after an amazing rendezvous in Nuka Hiva and began their free cruising through the atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago and onward to Tahiti.
The Tuamotus are a French Polynesian chain of almost 80 islands and atolls forming the largest chain of atolls in the world. The narrow rings of coral encircle brilliant turquoise lagoons - offering some of the best snorkelling and diving found in the world. This stunning archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean stretches from the northwest to the southeast over an area roughly the size of Western Europe. The total area of land within this chain is 850 square kilometres. There are approximately 16,000 inhabitants (many more if you include the abundant marine life). Favourite stops included: Rangoria where participants played in the wild with dolphins, Fakarava's pink sand beaches, incredible diving in the northern Garue and southern Tumakohua passes and the lesser visited Ahe and Mataiva with their slower pace and starry skies.
Sponsored by the Port Autonome de Papeete and Tahiti Tourisme, the World ARC 2018/19 fleet reunited for a festive rendezvous in the gardens of Papeete Town Hall, Mairie de Pape’ete, on the island of Tahiti.
Welcomed by traditional music and flower leis, the fleet enjoyed cultural dancing and sharing tales of their recent adventures. Each skipper received a special blessing by a local chief and were also presented with a commemorative shell. Stephanie Betz, organiser of the Tahiti Pearl Regatta, and her team went above and beyond to make this a special and memorable evening for the WARC rally participants.
Yachts are departing Papeete now and moving onward to free sail the remaining Society Islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha'a before starting the next leg in Bora Bora.