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Coors Light, the major sponsor for the 2014 American Samoa Flag Day Fautasi Race is pleased to present the 10 long boats that will compete on April 16. They are: Fua’o (Vatia), Paepae O Ulupo’o (Aua), Aeto (Pago Pago), Fealofani Samoa (Fagasa), Iseula (Fagatogo), Fetu Ole Afiafi (Faga’alu), Manulele Tausala I/II (Nu’uuli), Fa’asaulala (Vailoa), Matasaua (Manu’a).


Lanes have been drawn for next week’s Flag Day race on Wednesday morning, April 16.  Lane #1- Aeto (closer to the Tafuna International Airport), #2-defending champion, Fua’o, #3-Fa’asaulala, #4-Manulele Tausala ll, #5-Fealofani Samoa lll, #6-Paepae O Ulupo’o ll, #7-Manulele Tausala l, #8-Ise’ula, #9-Fetu Ole Afiafi, #10-Matasaua.  According to chairman Faoa, the prize for the Flag Day race championship fautasi, is $20,0000.


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Today, Coors Light features the Manulele Tausala ll from the village of Nu’uuli — the last of the profiles of the 10 boats competong on Wednesday, next week.


“Fai Fai Lemu Le Faiva,” Soli’ai advises


Senator Solia’i Tuipine Fuimaono recalls how the Nu’uuli auva’a of his generation learned how to row. “We tied the fautasi to a fau tree in Faga’alu, and then took our seats as the faia’oga barked orders and demonstrated how to properly row a fautasi. One of our instructors in those days was Galea’i Poumele (the late Lt. governor under the 2nd Coleman Administration).


“That was how we knew how to row a fautasi. It is also what I’m doing now with our village’s young generation of rowers under my command. I want to share my experience with them and instill the discipline we learned in those days.


“My crew is the future of Nu’uuli in fautasi competition. They’re young, keen, fit, and hungry to learn. The veteran rowers will be retiring soon, and these kids will take over.


“That is why I accepted my village’s call to be in charge as the captain of one of our Manulele Tausala ll fautasi. I want to teach them the proper rowing technique, and how to behave as athletes in time of victory as well as in the heartbreak of defeat.”


The Senator says Nu’uuli is used to being a champion as well as coming in last in tu’uga va’a. “Our village had a fautasi whose position was in the rear of every tu’uga va’a it entered from its maiden race to its last one. When we retired it, we celebrated because to us that fautasi represented the competitive spirit that Nu’uuli is known for.”


Solia’i has captained the Nu’uuli fautasi before and then went into a semi retirement until his village called on him again to takeover the Manulele Tausala ll because of his experience and knowledge. The fautasi that Solia’i is leading for the Flag Day  tu’uga va’a once belonged to the village of Aoa.


The Senator says his village was going to build a new high tech fautasi but the aumaga bought the Seahawk “without the knowledge of our village leaders”. The Seahawk was built at the Sunnfjord boatyard in Tacoma, Washington for the village of Aoa and shipped here in 2009.


Aoa paramount chief, Aumoeualogo Te’o Fuavai raced it just once and found out that the fautasi did not perform to his liking and sold it to the Nu’uuli aumaga. The fautasi sat at the Nu’uuli faleva’a in Utulei for close to six years. The new owners were not able to use the fautasi all this time as it was still under litigation.  


This year, Nu’uuli started working on the fautasi with boat builder, Maselino Ioane. They made huge changes to its frame. Ioane cut the standard stern of the fautasi and replaced it with a flat transom style that looks like a semi circle from behind. The same design is found in his recently built fautasi: Paepae O Ulupo’o and the Fua’o. And — Nu’uuli renamed it the Manulele Tausala ll.


Will Nu’uuli’s restructured fautasi #2 be a force in this year’s Flag Day regatta? Kapiteni Solia’i believes so. “In our second captains’ meeting, I was asked how many fautasi my village was entering for the race, I told Faoa (chairman of the 2014 Flag Day fautasi committee) and other kapiteni that Nu’uuli has two sa, and they will take first and second place respectively.


“We are well prepared for the tu’uga va’a this year. Our two auva’a have been training for over two months and they are fit. We have the best crews and they are the key to our success. You may have the best fautasi in the race but if you don’t have a fit and disciplined auva’a you will not succeed.”


Solia’i says his village has over 100 rowers in their two camps. “We need at least three fautasi to accommodate all of them. I’m very happy with the turnout as the kids occupy their time in a productive manner and not go off and get involved in illegal activities that may jeopardize their future and young lives.”


Senator Solia’i explains some of the reasons behind the changing of the Satani logo that was Nu’uuli’s sports identity (for better or for worse) for a very long time. 


“The name Satani has been mischaracterized in a misleading and in an inaccurate way by those that did not understand the true meaning why Nu’uuli used the Satani insignia. Satani to us represented fai mea vave (swift and fast)  and not the ki’apolo (devil) as the Bible tells us. Nu’uuli believes in God, not Satani.


“But as time goes by, our village has come under intense pressure from church ministers and other traditional leaders to change our sports sign Satani to a more respectable one.


“Some ministers in our village acted like they were choking on something every time they prayed to God to bless Satani, the fautasi,” kapiteni Solia’i says with a chuckle. 


The skipper says the church leaders sent a delegation three times to beg the village to change the Satani name.


“Our council of village matai decided it was time for a change and this year, we renamed our two fautasi, Manulele Tausala l/ll. Some wanted the name Saumalu, another famous logo associated with our sports teams years ago, but the Manulele Tausala was selected because of its important meaning to Nu’uuli. 


“It is the name of our Elementary School that was officially opened by the United States First Lady, Ladybird (Claudia Alta Taylor) who visited our village with president LBJ in 1966”.


Kapiteni Soli’ai has reentered the faigamea ile tai after 30 years of absence. During that time he served eight years in the Fono as the Senator from district #7, worked as head of the LBJ laboratory, held numerous board appointments with various government and quasi agencies, became the chief election officer, and now he is back at the Fono for the second time, serving another four year term as a legislator in the Senate. 


The Senator has 13 sons and daughters. _One of his sons, Taotasi Archie is a faipule in the House of Representatives from the same district, and along with a brother are rowers for Nu’uuli. Solia’i holds the title of deacon with his church, CCCAS.


The captain explains that fautasi competition has changed for the better over the years. “Villages, captains, and auva’a have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Tu’uga fautasi is still a fierce competitive sport but new thinking, ideas, approach, and technology have taken over. It has made the sport better and expensive. 


“I like what I’m seeing. Gone are the days when misa and fea’iga’i (fights and intense hostility) occurred often before, and after ku’uga va’a. These days the sport has fostered good and friendly relationships among auva’a and many who are involved in their village fautasi preparations.


“These are the good things that I have observed since my return to the water sport and I credit village leadership for imposing strict discipline. This is what my village of Nu’uuli is also teaching to our young generation, to be good and respectable citizens.”


His final words, “E le fou lo’u gu’u o Gu’uuli i le ka’aloga legei. Ua masagi lo’u gu’u ile mua ma le muli o makou sa (Nu’uuli is not new to this sport. We’re used to being champion as well as being in last place). When we win, we celebrate like champions; calm, happy, and composed. When we lose, we congratulate the winners, take our loss in a dignified manner and prepare for the next tu’uga va’a.”


Solia’i pays tribute to his village tapua’iga in all sectors of his community.


“I would like to thank our village leaders, church ministers, families and friends for their prayers and support. We are prepared for the Flag Day race and with God’s blessing, we believe we can be successful in our efforts”.


Senator Soli’ai wishes the people, government and visitors a peaceful and happy Flag Day next week.  He also desires a safe and competitive tu’uga va’a and for all captains and crews to “fai fai lemu le faiva” (play the game in a gentleman’s way).