The 500 Sails organization, which wants to revive the sailing tradition in the Marianas, is adding another canoe to its fleet, in time for the arrival on Saipan of the islands’ first Polynesian canoe.
In a presentation at the weekly Rotary Club of Saipan meeting last Tuesday, 500 Sails board president Pete Perez said the organization has just acquired a vessel called Roberta L that was built according to the ancient ways.
The Roberta L is a 40-foot long, 57-year-old Chamorro-inspired canoe that was built in the ’60s by a couple of steel workers.
According to Perez, a group that wanted to compete in the Mackinac Yacht Club race at that time did extensive research on how to build a vessel fast enough for the competition.
These individuals uncovered what is now referred to as “the Anson drawing,” which depicts a Chamorro canoe. That same Anson drawing inspired how Roberta L was built. 500 Sails is using the same drawing today as a guide on how it builds its canoes.
During the 300-meter Mackinac race, Roberta L was able to successfully beat the other competing yachts by five hours.
Today, Roberta L is stored in the 500 Sails storage and is in the process of being refurbished before taking part in the flotilla that will voyage to the Northern Islands for the first time.
The flotilla will consist of a few other indigenous canoes that will journey alongside the Okeanos Polynesian canoe that will be arriving some time this month.
According to Perez, the flotilla will include the 500 Sails’ Neni, the Carolinian Affair’s Office’s canoe, and Roberta L.
Roberta L will be the fourth addition to the 500 Sail’s fleet of Chamorro-inspired canoes.