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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, April 30) – Thirty-five sailboats, with crews from Japan, New Zealand, France and the U.S.A., will be sailing in the 3rd Annual Tahiti Pearl Regatta in the Leeward Islands from May 17-20.

One of the boats—the Mumm 30 "Tahiti"—will be skippered by Teva Plichart, who is entered in the Tour de France 2007 sailing event. He said he entered the Tahiti Pearl Regatta as part of his training program.

This year's Tahiti Pearl Regatta, organized by the Raiatea Regatta Association, will start on May 17 with training and a briefing at Raiatea. The next day, the regatta will sail within the lagoon shared by the islands of Raiatea and Taha'a.

[PIR editor’s note: The Leeward Islands of Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Huahine are located northwest of Tahiti.]

The boats will sail from Taha'a to Bora Bora on May 19, and then will sail in an Olympic triangle inside Bora Bora's lagoon on May 20. Huahine has been eliminated from this year's regatta as part of the organizers' plans to change the program each year. Last year, the regatta was held in four stages between the four Leeward Islands.

The regatta is open to all types of sailboats - mono-hulls, catamarans, trimarans, privately owned boats, charter boats and sailboats stopping over in French Polynesia during trans-Pacific voyages. There is no limit to the size of the boats that may be entered.

This will be the second year of a Pro Challenge, which allows businesses to enter their boats with a crew of employees. There are 11 such boats entered in this year's Tahiti Pearl Regatta. The businesses to be represented are the Pearl Resorts hotel chain; Tahia Collins, a chain of pearl jewelry boutiques; the Poe-ma insurance company; the Brasserie de Tahiti brewery and soft-drink bottling company; IDT, a computer technology business; The Moorings, a sailboat charter company; Hotel Hawaiki Nui; Air Tahiti; Champon Pearl Farm; GIE Tahiti Tourisme; Tahiti Pearl Market; and the U.S. Navy from California.

Media publications from Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S.A., Canada, France and Australia are scheduled to send representatives to cover the event. Most of the media represented are magazines, but there also is a camera crew from Quebec that will be filming the regatta for a travel and lifestyle television network, I-Cinema.

The Tahiti Pearl Regatta has grown from an idea four years ago among a group of sailing friends who wanted to create a nautical event in French Polynesia that was both a sporting event and a fun event, said Stéphanie Betz, the regatta's organizer.

The event was launched in 1005 with 19 sailboats. There were 26 boats in last year's regatta, which is held each year between the Leeward Islands of Raiatea, Taha'a and Bora Bora.

The Tahiti Pearl Regatta is sponsored by Tahiti Tourisme, Pearl Resorts & Spa, Air Tahiti Nui, the French Polynesia Sports Ministry, Tahiti Nui Television, Tahia Collins, Poe-ma Insurance, the Papeete Port Authority, the Hawaiki Nui Hotel and Air Tahiti.

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