Yachting World

Va’a Iti, starting small

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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.

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 ??  ?? The single-seat Va’a Iti trimaran developed for a hotel in Bora Bora
The single-seat Va’a Iti trimaran developed for a hotel in Bora Bora
 ??  ?? Nestled in the bottom of a valley is the Va’a Iti constructi­on site – Alexandre and his partner Charlotte’s garage
Nestled in the bottom of a valley is the Va’a Iti constructi­on site – Alexandre and his partner Charlotte’s garage
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