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Sailing the South Seas

Have you ever thought about visiting French Polynesia? This could be the perfect time to go: mid-May sees the celebration of an important regatta in which professionals and non-professionals alike are welcome to participate.

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You don't need to be a great athlete or to have extensive knowledge of seamanship to participate in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta, the most important race of Tahiti and its islands; it's enough just to love and appreciate the good things in life. The race takes place from May 12th to 16th and participants will sail one of the most beautiful parts of the South Pacific - the triangle linking the islands of Raiatea, Bora Bora and Tahaa - in a festive atmosphere that mixes sport and celebration.

The regatta kicks off in Raiatea, the second largest island of the archipelago of Society Islands in French Polynesia, whose name means "bright sky". Raiatea is known for the tiare apetahi, a beautiful five-petalled white gardenia shaped like an open hand that has become the symbol of the island; the flower grows nowhere else and due to over-picking has now been made a protected species. The race sets off from the island's popular marina where most charter companies have their base.

From May 11th, all eyes are on Uturoa, the capital of Raiatea, where a 'village' is established to monitor the race. The next day, participants head off in the direction of Bora Bora, known as the Pearl of the Pacific because of  its natural beauty, and then on to Tahaa, famous for its extensive cultivation of Tahitian vanilla.

The race is divided into different categories: professional, mono-hulled and multi-hulled vessels, and different stages require different skill levels. The boats pass from the heaving waters of the ocean to the quiet lagoon waters that surround the islands through a series of 'steps' or breaks in the barrier reef, in a setting that is nothing short of breathtaking.

Each race day ends with a perfect celebratory finish of a typical Tahitian meal featuring fish and seafood, accompanied by ukulele music and the exchange of stories by visitors and locals. The regatta offers an exceptional opportunity to discover these paradisaical islands in the South Seas that have had such an impact on so many writers and formed the inspiration for the exotic scenes that Paul Gauguin captured in his art.

Further information:
Tahiti Pearl Regatta
Tahiti Tourism

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