Unique Ninigo outrigger canoes
The canoes are carved from driftwood – whole trees that wash up on the beaches. Canoe builders are always on the lookout for the best wood and a log is claimed by the first person to see it by carving one's name onto it.
The emphasis is on making the canoes as light as possible. Handmade wooden nails (dowels) are still used; the outriggers themselves are beautifully carved by hand, many made just for racing.
The biggest weight issue is water flooding over the low freeboard. Spray coamings help, as does decking the canoes, but they also use an 'engineer'. This is a young boy whose job it is to bail the canoe as fast as he can, and it’s a job done with pride.
Sails, traditionally made from woven pandanus leaves, are now made from plastic tarpaulin. The canoes use an array of different sized sails for differing wind conditions. Sails are treasured and the newer tarpaulins are saved for the race and only used for family commuting later. Here a tree provides the sail loft, with several rolled up sails sitting in the branches. Uniquely, sails are shared between friends and different boats.
The islanders use their outrigger sailing canoes primarily to commute between the islands and to fish. Entire families sit in the canoes cruising along, usually trolling a fishing line.
Crews trained hard for the racing, practising flying the outrigger for maximum speed