As if to reinforce Mistral’s genuine wish to follow a pathway back to its roots of that of Wind and Water, what better way than to travel to not only one of the worlds epicentres for water sports, but to a group of islands where its people’s association with water, is as real and tangible as you could possibly imagine.
Tahiti and her islands is for me the pinnacle of purity when we speak of waterman and women, because their connection is so completely natural with that of their ancestors, putting them in touch with how they came to be in the islands and how they established their society and that association with water we are speaking of.
While Hawaii consistently basks in the limelight as the epicentre of water sports, the fact of the matter is, most of the focus is upon Anglo-Hawaiians, who are all too often from somewhere else, in a place, so heavily promoted and accessible to the world, Tahiti is all but left out as just a mythological and unattainable island nation just a little south of Hawaii.
This differs in Tahiti, because the stars here are home grown Tahitians or at least, individuals from any one of a number of her islands. This is not insignificant and if you want proof, you only have to consider that on the world stage, native Hawaiians are not dominating SUP or even their ancestral sport of outrigger canoeing. It’s a shame and it’s partly a result of the status quo which exists in Hawaii and there’s plenty of resentment and localised mind sets as a result.
Here in Tahiti, in the context of paddling outrigger canoes (va’a) they are in a league of their own. Their SUP paddlers are already beginning to impress and there’s only a few doing it, but as numbers grow, you can be sure they will make their mark and elevate the standards.
Tahiti, rather like Mauritius where Mistral’s R&D division is based, has all the requirements for the perfect playground. It’s a powerful place that exudes that connection between mountains and sea, myth and mythology. Everything is on a grand scale, from the trees and vegetation, to the waves which come to rest on her reefs, to the colours and fragrances, they all impress and invoke a sense of incredulity and amazement.
Mistral is not just about stand up paddle boarding and while it was once about windsurfing, we acknowledge more and more, that as a waters sports lifestyle brand with many varied licensees located around the world, producing footwear, sunglasses, cosmetics and various apparel lines and homewares, we must ultimately broaden our horizons, our interests and indeed our awareness of the big picture.
Whether we design and create outstanding SUP race boards or innovative inflatables, or to whatever we associate our brand with, ocean sports and a water life and living prism of interest, is something we can and must absorb ourselves within.
Tahiti, rather like Mauritius, is one of the those unique idyllic islands in the sun, that inspire and make you day dream with just the mere mention of their names and so it should be in a sense the same with the name Mistral, a name which evokes an idea of a lifestyle and of a place or an activity that transcends the everyday.
The Holopuni Va’a Canoe Sailing Race, marks the beginning of two weeks of waterman and women activities difficult to find a parallel with. Imagine 375km of sailing between the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raitea, Tahaa and Bora Bora, sailing traditional based sailing canoes, followed by the chance to compete in the Bora Bora Ironmana Liquid Festival, comprised of 10km swim, 30km prone and 60km SUP racing. It takes courage to sign up, let alone actually see it through.
Why would Mistral be interested in this?
Well in the first place our Mistral importer Laurent is crewing one of the sailing canoes, sailing with two Americans from California. The canoe features a Mistral sail and we have some apparel to support the crew in the form of caps, jackets, leggings, towels and tees.
Furthermore Steeve Teihotaata our star team rider, is born and bred on the island of Bora Bora and loves anything to do with water. He surfs, swims, prone paddle boards, loves canoe sailing and you know his ability on an SUP and moreover he is a champion va’a (canoe) paddler of Tahiti, which in simple terms in Tahiti, makes him something of a demigod, a man for whom many a Tahitian paddler aspires to be. Right now this is his time to shine with but only a handful of other paddling superstars.
And then there’s our interest in other Tahitian paddlers. Not only do we recognise them as amongst the best in the world, Tahiti and Mistral simply make sense and we are in fact one of the few brands to know and understand the world of outrigger canoeing, better than most.
Over the coming days and weeks, expect some great stories, images and revelations as we watch the events unfold, culminating in Steeve’s participation in the Ironmana event on his home island of Bora Bora, where he will compete in all 3 disciplines, 10km swim, 30km prone, 60km SUP paddling on the new Vortex XL. We also have 2 new Tahitian paddlers; but more about that later . . .