Va’a Iti, starting small
Va’a Iti means ‘little canoe’ in Tahitian. As our first project we set out to develop a single-seat trimaran for a hotel in Bora Bora that wanted a model with a Polynesian look but that would very easy to use.
Working with Alexandre Genton, a talented local boatbuilder, we built a canoe based on a V1 canoe, which is a sport paddling canoe with one outrigger. Single outrigger canoes are an institution in Polynesia, and Polynesian champion paddlers dominate the podiums at international competitions.
This was my first canoe construction and the design was successful, though I came to understand what an old seadog I had met a long time ago in St Malo meant when he told me: “When it comes to boats, the best way to end up a millionaire is to start out as a billionaire!”
But what I gained by living this project was much more valuable than the money.
The next build was a larger Va’a Motu for the hotel, whose owner wanted a modern version of a traditional canoe for their beach club. This canoe was 20ft long, built of kauri wood using strip planking, while the rig was made from carbon windsurf masts. There is no rudder so the sailor helms in the traditional Polynesian way, with a paddle in the water.