The 2019 Fiji Regatta Week has just wrapped up and what a week it’s been! More than 100 yachts from twenty countries brought 380 sailors to the beautiful Mamanuca Islands of Fiji for six days of big boat racing, Hobie Cat racing, lively parties, seminars, a swap meet, and more. I’ve been to a lot of regattas in my life, and this is certainly the cruisiest but with easily the best parties i’ve ever found. When you see kiteboards racing against cruising cats and monohulls, sailing in between narrow reef passes, it’s truly sailing anarchy at it’s finest.
This was my second Fiji Regatta Week, but first as media manager. Five years ago I had sailed in here on my engineless little Cal 2-27 MONGO, and I fell in love with the place, the people and the famous waves nearby including Cloudbreak and Restaurants. Now i’m here on my Peterson 34 QUIVER, loaded up with surfboards, drones, media gear and anything else that a surf-addicted digital nomad may need to survive. I had put up a video and an article on SA before I left Hawaii in January on what was supposed to be a three year circumnavigation but haven’t updated since.
After an uneventful and quite pleasant passage to the Marshall islands in January, I ended up staying a bit longer than planned. Before I left, a cyclone developed right over top of us and then a couple of more cyclones developed out of season and went ripping right across my intended route. Unprecedented and quite scary stuff.
Having just ended a long relationship and with climate-change induced weather dictating that heading south across the equator might be a smart move, I packed up all my gear, including my newly-built nesting dinghy with carbon sailing rig, and headed south. I stopped in Tarawa Atoll in Kiribati for a few days and also in Funafuti Atoll in Tuvalu; both interesting places, but with funky equitorial weather. I saw some very gnarly weather four hours out of Tarawa and the final night into Tuvalu. Fortunately the breeze was mostly from behind.
The Peterson 34 performed flawlessly and even cracked off a few days in the 160’s with a personal best of 171 nautical miles in 24 hours. Along the way, I landed a 200 lb yellowfin ahi tuna, solo, three days north of Fiji. In fact, i’ve had fresh fish in the fridge on every single day of every passage since leaving Hawaii! With my 40 quart Engel fridge/ freezer emptied, I managed to bring in well over 100 pounds of sushi-grade yellowfin tuna to give away to the locals when I arrived in Fiji. If you can’t tell, the big tuna was the highlight of the passage!
I’ve had the boat in Fiji since late April and just can’t say enough about the place. I want to live here and make a life and a company here. Both times i’ve come to Fiji, it wasn’t exactly planned but sometimes the best things in life are those that were never even supposed to happen.
After two months in Fiji, I flew to the states for two months of Transpac media work and a Santa Cruz 52 return delivery to restock the cruising kitty a bit. I was stoked to work for teams such as the historic Santa Cruz sled Merlin, the MOD 70 Powerplay and the mighty Comanche before being the drone photographer for the renowned yachting photographer Sharon Green.
Once back in Fiji in late August, I approached the owners of the Musket Cove Resort and Marina, the home of Fiji Regatta Week, about doing media for the regatta and they were very receptive. I worked my ass off all week and had a great time doing it, hoping to establish myself in this rad island nation that i’m trying to lay down some roots in.
A lot of SA readers were sprinkled throughout the fleet, and i’m pretty pumped on the moving images that I came out with. I hope you guys are too, it’s an awesome regatta to be a part of and a truly great time. One of the personal highlights for me was handing the keys to my Peterson over to a keen young Australian F18 champ and watching him and his crew off a big cruising cat smash around the course in my house and do the boat, me and Doug Peterson proud.
What’s next for me and the QUIVER? Well, the surf is still pumping about five days out of seven and I desperately need to get back on it after a week of filming, writing and a lot of late nights editing video. I was planning to head back up to the Marshalls to finish off some unfinished business but after spending a week doing media for the regatta, I drank the Kool-Aid from all the New Zealand based sponsors and I think i’ll head south for cyclone season. I should be in New Zealand around December and i’m really hoping to find a ride for the Sydney to Hobart.
I checked the race off of my bucket list in 2013, but strangely it’s still at the top of the list. Anyone need an onboard reporter and crew member? I’ve got about 100,000 miles at sea now including 17 Hawaii crossing, 6 Hawaii races, 1 Hobart race and a host of other racing, cruising and delivering on everything from a solo Transpac on a Moore 24 up to a Transpac return on the Rio 100. You can contact me at ronniesimpsonmedia at gmail dot com.
Bula bula from Fiji,