Part of the reason we arrived in Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga in mid-September was to participate in a sailing event called Regatta Vava’u 2010. The regatta has become a regular annual event here that includes sailing races, social events (parties), games, and opportunities to meet and learn about the local culture and sea life. Of course, the events also include ample chances for the foreign cruisers to learn about the local businesses and even businesses in other countries.
The regatta officially started on September 22nd and the final events are held on September 28 with the official prize giving ceremonies. We have really enjoyed the entire regatta and think it was quite well done. Most of the events happened in the bay of Neiafu where most of the businesses are located. We even thought the blatant attempt to promote the local businesses was particularly innovative and a lot of fun. They gave us a booklet called a “passport” that included names and descriptions of most of the local businesses. Each listing included a number of stamp boxes. One for if you visited that business, another if you spent money there (worth more points), and (for those restaurants who had bars) a special stamp if you participated in the pub crawl where everyone went from one bar to the next and had a drink one night.
The passport also was wrapped up in the other events. For the two sailboat races they had different classes (small mono-hulls, larger mono-hulls, and multi-hulls). If you placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd you got a extra points. If you participated in games, or attended various talks, or went to the big Saturday night party, then you got a stamp with points. Some businesses from New Zealand are big sponsors of the regatta. Since a large number of the sailors here in Tonga now will be continuing south to spend the cyclone season in New Zealand, these businesses came here to promote their services. So, if you attended the various talks and parties sponsored by these businesses you again got stamps in the passport. Finally, the businesses have sponsored a number of prizes that are awarded based on the passport points. Prizes will be given to everyone, but the bigger prizes go to those with the most points.
It was actually not only fun running into the various stores, restaurants, bars, bakeries, dive shops, etc. to get the stamps. But, it was also a very effective way to make us aware of what services are available, and to give us an opportunity to meet the local business people.
More stories (and pictures) on the regatta coming…