Sailing Raft Tangaroa Makes Record Speeds

Tangaroa sailing
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The Raft known as Tangaroa, Kon-Tiki’s grandchild, is reported sailing at record speed towards Tuamotu atoll

Two internet websites, ExploreWeb and Tangaroa.nettblogg report that the Peruvian raft Tangaroa, the Kon-Tiki replica, was last reported sailing toward the Tuamotu atoll of Raroia at a record speed that was faster than Thor Heyerdahl and his crew on Kon-Tiki did during their 101-day voyage nearly 60 years ago.

The Tangaroa is more than halfway to Raroia after having set out from Peru on April 28 to follow the same route as the historic Kon-Tiki voyage. And the Tangaroa crew includes 29-year-old Olav Heyerdahl, the grandson of the famous Norwegian..

Tangaroa, a balsa raft named after a Polynesian sea god, 'is traveling at a steady speed of over 3 knots with winds of about 7 metres per second, with the top sail down and one reef in the main sail'.

Tangaroa had covered more than 80 nautical miles in the previous 24 hours. According to the report 'The record came after several days of sailing at a higher speed than the Kon-Tiki ever had.'

Tangaroa on board
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One crewmember wrote on the Internet blog, 'I knew we were likely to find good winds at these latitudes.' He and another crewmember studied the wind maps of the Pacific Ocean 'very closely these past few weeks.

'We have had winds near gale and tall waves these last few days,' the second crewmember said. 'Waves of five metres snapping at us from behind, sending buckets of water up on deck. The wind is blowing straight in from behind, and we just sit and watch the raft sailing by herself.

'Even if the weather is quite heavy, the sun is shining and we're rushing towards the west,' he reported. At the time of the report, the Tangaroa had covered 2,524 nautical miles.

The Kon-Tiki, equipped with a primitive sail and unable to navigate against the wind, traveled across the Pacific from Peru for 101 days, covering 4,900 miles, running aground on the coral reef of Raroia, which is 740 km (460 miles) northeast of Tahiti.

The 56-foot Tangaroa has several advantages over the Kon-Tiki. It is using 21st century navigation techniques and has sails three times larger than those of the Kon-Tiki. And unlike the Kon-Tiki, the Tangaroa can sail against the wind.


The Original Kon-Tiki after arrival in Tahiti
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Kon-Tiki Background:
Kon-Tiki was the name given to a raft by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition. It was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom 'Kon-Tiki' was said to be an old name. Kon-Tiki is also the name of the popular book that Heyerdahl wrote about his adventures.

Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in the south Pacific in Pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to them at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so.

Heyerdahl and a small team went to Peru, where they used trees and other native materials to construct a balsawood raft in an indigenous style (as recorded in illustrations by Spanish conquistadores). Accompanied by five companions, Heyerdahl sailed it for 101 days over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before smashing into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. The only modern equipment they had was a radio.

The book Kon-Tiki was a best-seller, and a documentary motion picture of the expedition won an Academy Award in 1951.

The original Kon-Tiki is now on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.
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