Held every year since 2000 the Bora Bora Liquid Festival (better known to the locals as the IronMana) has taken over the crystal clear waters of Bora Bora, Polynesia’s most beautiful island atoll. The week long festival is an all-out celebration of multiple ocean-based disciplines including a 6km swim, a 55km surfski division, a waterman triathlon, SUP and Va’a sprint races, and of coarse the festival’s traditional endurance race. On the final day of the festival the best of the best watermen compete in either a 40 km SUP and Lay Down Paddle Race, a 50 km Surf Ski Race, or the 60 km Solo Outrigger Canoe Race.
The motto of the festival is “going deeper” as top level athletes are invited to push themselves beyond their ultimate physical and mental limits while spectators are encouraged to sit back, relax and join the festivities.
Ironman or IronMana is an expression used for the men and women who personify strength, willpower, and endurance, as well as a certain type of toughness beyond that of a normal person.
If there’s anyone who understands what it means to be an Ironman, it’s Stephan Lambert the man behind the Festival. “The Ironmana is a race with no end, because once you cross the finish line the race of the life has just began. The competition is first and foremost with oneself: trying to go beyond one’s own limits. “
The Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach and Private Island was the proud host for the 11th consecutive running of the festival held this past December. The week long celebration continues to grow each year developing into a showcase of sporting excellence, family friendly swims, festive barbecues, adventure tours, nightly entertainment, movies, concerts, as well as traditional Tahitian cultural events.
Bora Bora, long thought of as a mere honeymoon destination is much more than that explains Sofitel General Manager Didier Lamoot “What’s fantastic about Bora Bora and the festival is it welcomes everyone from novice to world class waterman to challenge themselves pushing their personal limits while at the same time feeling comfortable competing against the best in the world in the most beautiful place in the world.”
In its second year as a part of the festival the Bora Bora open ocean swim is fast becoming one of the main highlights given the recent global explosion of open water swimming. In an effort to make the 6k race unpredictable and challenging Lambert insists on changing the course each time the event is held, thereby leveling the playing field and discouraging returning swimmers from having a strategic advantage.
World Class open ocean swimmer Alex Kostich returned to the Ironmana for the second year in a row, “While the event is a great racing experience in and of itself, what I love about the Liquid Festival is the celebratory nature of the gathering; its produced by and populated by people who grew up around and have a deep affinity for the ocean. While the events are all highly competitive and incredibly exciting, there’s an undercurrent of passion that infuses the whole week which you don’t necessarily see anywhere else.”
In typical Ironmana fashion, Kostich who won the swim event last year had to wait 10 minutes after the start of the race before he was allowed to take-off in an effort to level the playing field. Displaying amazing dolphin like ability Alex not only caught the rest of the field; he finished five minutes a head of the next closest swimmer. Alex capitalized on finishing first by greeting each swimmer with positive encouragement as they crossed the finish line of the grueling 6km swim.
The great all-around atmosphere at the liquid festival is one which should be experience by everyone who loves the ocean claims Eric Hiss of the global travel blog Wandermelon, “People need to come here for the beautiful water, the multiple water sports, and the incredible activities that are available in Bora Bora. If you’re an active traveler, someone who loves to surf or swim, Standup Paddle, or just relax on the beach while watching top athletes compete then you definitely need to attend the Liquid Festival in the most beautiful lagoon on earth.”
For exclusive discounted packages to the 2012 Bora Bora Liquid festival, check out Wandermelon.com, the official promoters of the festival who are currently working hard on next year’s all-inclusive packages.
Photos courtesy of the legendary Wim Lippins.