FOR last year's Veitau Waqa champion Joji Misaele, the thought of repeating that feat does not hold much weight.
The head of the Fiji National University's Mechanical Engineering has his sights set on proving that his camakau design — a fusion of traditional boatbuilding knowledge and modern engineering techniques — makes waves in another category.
After using his engineering know-how to make key improvements to the design of his camakau, Mr Misaele wants to see his design, named Seni Nawanawa, challenge the elements and come out on top.
"I'm not really in the competition to win this year, it is not of that much importance. What's important is that I test the design of the vessel and ensure that it is seaworthy," Mr Misaele said.
"My boat caught people by surprise with its performance last year and this was proof that the modifications worked."
He said he was looking forward to stronger weather conditions in this year's race for his design to be properly tested.
"I am hoping this year that the winds are bit stronger and that the seas are a bit rougher because these camakau can only be tested if there is bad weather. This will show the true seaworthiness of a boat."
With 10 camakau entering this year's Veitau Waqa event, organised by the Pacific Blue Foundation as part of the Hisbiscus Festival's Friday feature, Mr Misaele said each separate boatbuilder had stepped up preparations.
"This was not the case last year. These boats are now a little different, they have started to trim their boats very well, like the boats being made by Semiti Cama in Korova and also the boats in Bilo."
He explained that by reigniting interest in the art of camakau building and sailing, he hoped to resurrect a dying art and keep the knowledge of his ancestors alive.
The camakau builders and sailors will march through Suva before the race on Friday.