PREPARATIONS for the annual Veitau Waqa have encountered a big surge in entries a week before the race.
From what was initially planned for a 10-camakau race, the event will now cater for 45 entries in the bakanawa category.
The bakanawa, a model-sized canoe up to a metre in length, is the trademark toy of children in the Lau Islands that sets them up for traditional sailing on the camakau.
The Veitau Waqa, organised by Pacific Blue Foundation, will be a feature of the Hibiscus Festival on Friday, August 23.
The Roko Sau, Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba, the paramount chief of the yasayasa Moala group of islands, said the response to the revival of traditional Fijian sailing was encouraging.
"It will be the biggest Veitau Waqa to date and a great day to come out and witness the skills of these sailors," said Mr Cinavilakeba, Pacific Blue Foundation's government and community relations director.
Foundation founder Greg Mitchell said the Veitau Waqa started as a tribute to the cultural tradition of sailing canoe races that Fijians always had practised for centuries.
The Veitau Waqa will start with a march from the Suva Flea Market to the FDB foreshore, where the race will be held.
The police jazz band will lead the procession.