TRADITIONAL CANOE BUILDING UNDERGOING MARSHALL ISLANDS REVIVAL, OUTRIGGER RESORT HOSTS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (March 5, 1998 - PIDP/CPIS/Ioane)---Traditional canoe building in the Marshall Islands is undergoing a revival with assistance from the Outrigger Marshall Islands Resort in Majuro, host for this year's second annual Outrigger Marshall Islands Cup.

The upcoming Majuro lagoon races, which will take place May 9 and feature traditional one-person (korkor) sailing canoes, have triggered an intense canoe building effort on the Micronesian republic's 29 atolls and five coral islands.

Marshall Islands' canoes are different from Polynesian canoe in that their hulls are asymmetric, allowing the sailor to change direction by simply moving the sail from one end of the canoe to the other.

The canoe is built with the windward side of the hull much flatter than the lee side and always sailed with the round side facing windward, allowing it to sail much closer to the wind.

Marshall Islands' canoes generally measure 10 to 16 feet in length.

Over the years, modern technology, Western influences and cultural apathy have almost destroyed interest in and knowledge of how to build the Marshall Island’s canoe.

Resort officials say the Outrigger Marshall Islands Cup has done much to renew interest in this nearly-lost art.

"The first annual race had a significant impact on the community," said resort General Manager Laverne Salvador.

"For both young and old, it generated excitement, awareness and pride in an important symbol of the Marshallese culture."

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