“E Le Koe Fa’avalevalea Le Kapikegi Ole Aeko”, Va’amua warns

The Pago Pago Aeto crew. [photo: FV]

Samoa News Sports coverage of the 2012 Flag Day fautasi race is brought to you by the good people at GHC Reid and the cool refreshing and super cold as the Rockies blue mountain beer, Coors Light. 

There are 10 fautasi in the 2012 Flag Day tu’uga va’a. They are: Le Fetu Ao, from Faga’alu, Matasaua from the District of Manu’a, Nu’uuli from Nu’uuli, the Sharks from Samoana High School, Ise’ula from Fagatogo, Aeto from Pago Pago, Fealofani Samoa lll from Fagasa, Fua’o from Vatia, Paepae O Ulupo’o from Aua, and the Tolotolo O Tama Uli from Salelologa Savai’i. 

The Pago Pago Aeto

The skipper of the Pago Pago Aeto, Va’amua Henry Sesepasara has issued a strong warning to the new chairman of the Flag Day fautasi committee, Pala’ita Tusi Suiaunoa that the “captain of the Aeto will not be stupid again.” 

The faipule in the House of Representatives from the village of Pago Pago tells this correspondent he was “too honest in last year’s race”.

Va’amua explains as his Aeto was awaiting the gun to go off signaling the start of last year’s Flag Day tu’uga va’a, then chairman of the Fautasi Committee, Senator Pagofie who was on board the committee boat approached and told him to move his fautasi back. However, as he was in the process of back paddling, the committee fired the gun to begin the race.

“I was so mad at Pagofie. I obeyed his orders but he did not instruct the other captains to retreat to their designated lanes. It cost us the race.”

“Ua okegia a’u e le makou gu’u kalu ai le kele o lo’u fa’amaogi. E le koe kupu la la’ea mea. E le koe fa’avalevalea le kapikegi o le Aeko ile ku’uga o legei kausaga (My village admonished me for being too honest. That will not happen again. The captain of the Aeto will no be stupid in this year’s race),” cautions Va’amua, skipper of the Pago Pago Aeto.

“This year, if I see that other fautasi have moved in front of their lanes, I will also move forward. Being too honest does not amount to anything as far as the committee is concerned. I trust that the new chairman and his committee will have better control in the lining up of fautasi in their lanes. I am hoping too that chairman Suiaunoa will guarantee that we will have a fair start in this year’s Flag Day race,” Va’amua adds.

The Aeto is one of three high tech fautasi that will compete in the only heat of nine fautasi to determine the six local boats that will join the invited sa from Salelologa Savai’i in the main championship final scheduled for April 18.

The heat will be held on Saturday, April 14 in the morning. The Aeto, Matasaua from the District of Manu’a, and the Fealofani Samoa lll from Fagasa will easily qualify for the championship final because of their superior high tech designs.

The Pago Pago Aeto is one of the fastest fautasi ever built. The three-year old fautasi won the 2010 Flag Day regatta in its first maiden race after being swamped in the heats in rough seas and had to be towed to its home base at Pago Pago. Despite that accident, the Aeto rose from the dead on the day of the final race and flew sky high, with Va’amua at the helm, carrying the pride and aspirations of his village to the tigi.

In the 2011 Sisiga Fu’a race, the Aeto was the last to take off from the starting blocks. Va’amua calmly guided his Aeto from way behind, dodged some fautasi that were in his path, and passed others that took off way before him in a taxi-like fashion to take the third position. Nu’uuli won the championship Cup with Samoana Sharks cruising to second place.

This year, Va’amua will be alerted and will have a sharp lookout for a slight fault on the part of the committee, as well as other fautasi captains that will not obey the rules. “I will not be as honest as I was last year. That was my biggest mistake,” he warns.

Preparations for the Aeto crew have been going on since January 30. “It’s business as usual,” says Va’amua. “We started off with over 60 young enthusiasts who wanted to tryout for a seat in the Aeto. But as we picked up the pace in road training, and other exercises, many dropped off. 

“Before our crew started camping last Sunday, the rowers were made to report to our training center around four in the morning for the start of our exercises and road runs to the Fagasa Pass. Those that missed the morning roll call a couple of times without a legitimate excuse were weeded out,” explains Va’amua.

Chief trainer, Leaoa Eddie Tuaolo Fruean from Leloaloa is responsible for the crew’s fitness. Leaoa traces the origin of his matai title to the banyan tree. “The Leaoa tree is the king of all trees in the forest,” he proudly proclaims. “My roots spread wide and far from Pago Pago to Leloaloa and cover all of American and Independent Samoa.”

Leaoa, who is a former Aeto rower says he advises his squad of more than 40 rowers to concentrate their training and focus attention to the only heat that will select the six boats to compete for the main 2012 Flag Day faigamea ile tai.

“I said to the Aeto crew, we take all fautasi seriously. We train not for one boat but for all the fautasi that will compete in the heat. If we’re successful and move on to the final, then we’re going to go all out and do everything we can to win the fautasi championship.”

Speaking on the methodology he uses to get his crew up to speed and gain the stamina needed for the success of the Aeto campaign, Leaoa says, “I demand honesty from them when we train. I need a 100 percent effort from everyone that will be in the final auva’a as we build up energy and endurance through vigorous fitness program that we run them through everyday. If I see that they have given me an honest and dedicated effort, then I rest them for a day before we start our routine again. Some could not take the hard training and were excused, the majority have not disappointed our training committee,” Leaoa explains.

Va’amua, leader of  Pago Pago’s aumaga, Uta i Feau Lefiu Bill Kalasa, chief trainer Leaoa, and the Aeto committee will finalize the picking of their fautasi crew on Monday next week to represent their village for the Flag Day fautasi tu’uga va’a.

The oldest and experienced rower who is competing against the young potential auva’a for a seat and the opportunity to row for the name of his village is Kolio. “Kolio is 48 years old,” remarks chief trainer, Leaoa. “But he always beats most of the young members of our squad in long distance runs and short sprints. Even when we jog the Fagasa pass every morning, Kolio is one of the first to get up there.”

The majority of the Aeto crew are students. “At least 85 percent of them attend the American Samoa Community College with a few who go to high schools. There are 10 young rookies in our training squad. Some of our experienced rowers from last year have moved to the States. Others have joined the Army reserve and are not available for this year’s tu’uga va’a,” chief trainer, Leaoa tells this correspondent.

The Aeto crew rows nearly every morning and most evenings, but does most of the road work at the break of dawn. According to Leaoa, their last rowing practice for this week will be on Thursday evening and the Aeto fautasi will then be lifted and carried to its faleva’a behind the Pago Plaza building.

“We halt all our training on Good Friday as we honor the commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Easter week is a Holy one and the Pago Pago residents, like all Christians throughout the world observe and remember the death and resurrection of our Lord during this time,” the chief trainer says.

The committee that oversees and supervises all the affairs of the Aeto fautasi and the crew is led by Simi Sausi under the direction of the Pago Pago aumaga leader, Uta i Fea’u, Lefiu Bill Kalasa.  Other members are; Wallie Taufa’asau, Poia Samuelu, Tua Tuamasaga, Eddie Husseini, Kasesa, Davis Loa, Poutoa I’amanu and chief trainer, Leaoa Eddie Tua’olo Fruean.

Skipper Va’amua and Leaoa want to express their fa’afetai tele to Sonny and his company, Pacific Printing for providing practice uniforms for the Aeto crew. “Sonny has been a great help to our cause,” the faipule from Pago Pago remarks. Chief trainer Leaoa adds that Sonny and his company will also provide the yellow uniforms that the Aeto crew will use for the two tu’uga va’a.

Va’amua wants to take the opportunity to offer his fa’afetai to the head of Pago Pago village, Ma’oputasi Tasi Asuega, the council of matai, church ministers and all supporters for their tapua’iga, prayers and contributions made for the success of the Aeto campaign in this year’s faigamea ile tai.

“We have prepared well to represent our village in the Flag Day tu’uga va’a. With God’s help and blessing, the Aeto and crew will do well. Fa’afetai i lau tapua’iga Pago Pago,” captain Va’amua concludes.


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