Canoe voyage in Chile seeks to highlight environmental protection

Easter Island, Chile, Dec 3 (EFE).- Ten rowers, six aboard a traditional Polynesian canoe, and four reserves, departed from Chile’s Easter Island towards Motu Motiro Hiva, a marine park surrounding the Salas y Gómez Island, on Saturday.

They are part of an unprecedented initiative, known as the Hoki Mai Challenge, aimed at highlighting the protection of oceans.

Escorted by a Chilean navy ship, the participants will row uninterruptedly for four days and three nights to cover the 500 kilometers (310 miles) separating both Polynesian islands to send a message to the world about the effects of climate change.

Physical education teacher Rafael Jovino Toki, who leads the group of rowers, said they were finally fulfilling a dream they had since 2015, when they lacked a safe boat for the journey.

“The logistics side has achieved a large boat that is safe and that can help us in any inclement weather,” he said, referring to the Chilean navy ship that is accompanying them.

Once the escort ship was arranged, the second phase of the undertaking kicked off three months ago with the selection of the crew, a group of men and women.

“There are a variety of rowers, some who have a lot of experience in the competitive part and others who have been rowing for between 1-2 years,” Jovino added, pointing out that the psychological aspect is the toughest part of the training and challenge.

“The psychological work after rowing, I think it is what we are going to feel the most because we have to change clothes, eat, bundle up after the daily hustle bustle and work to be able to continue rowing,” especially at night, when it is more difficult, he explained.

“In the end you have to get used to it. Get used to following the moon, and not following the Earth. We normally row along the coast. We were working between 10.5 and 11.6 kilometers an hour,” with the aim of arriving in three days, he said.

The rowers are scheduled to reach their destination between Dec. 6 and 7, depending on sea conditions. EFE


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