Flag Day Fiva! Fautasi captains draw lanes for heat
Deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs Nanai Afuola chaired a meeting of fautasi captains and the 2012 Flag Day fautasi committee on Thursday where the kapiteni drew lanes their fautasi would start from in next Saturday’s heat.
Captain of the Fua’o from Vatia, Ga’ote’ote Pala’ie Tofau picked lane #1 that is closer to the Tafuna International Airport. Faipule Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi, skipper of the Fagatogo Ise’ula, drew lane #2. Last year’s champion, kapiteni Fanene Soto from Nu’uuli, will race on lane #3. The Aeto skipper, faipule Va’amua Henry Sesepasara selected lane #4.
New skipper, Taliga Vaiolo will guide his Matasaua ll boat from lane #5. Faga'alu captain Mitch Shimasaki picked lane #6 for the Fetu O Le Afiafi. The Samoana High School kapiteni Meauta Mageo and his Samoana Sharks are in lane #7. The new Fagasa Fealofani Samoa lll will race from lane #8 with new skipper Tupuola Sopoaga at the cockpit. Captain Leonard Sonoma Liufau of the Aua Paepae O Ulupo’o selected lane #9.
The Saturday, April 14 heat will start at nine in the morning. The preliminary race will determine the six fautasi that will advance to the main championship final on Wednesday, April 18. The rest will have their final on Monday, April 16 to coincide with the dedication of the government’s fale Samoa at the Malae o Su’iga’ula ole Atu Vasa in Utulei beach.
Faga’alu meanwhile decided at the last minute to enter the Fa’asaulala fautasi from Vailoa as its second fautasi for this year’s race. The chairman of the fautasi committee Pala’ita Tusi Suiaunoa objected to its late entry, arguing that it could interfere with safety measures already put in place by his committee.
“We are concerned that Faga’alu’s second fautasi and crew have only a week or two to practice and familiarize themselves with the race course. I believe that this is not enough time for Faga’alu’s second crew to prepare. I therefore will not allow it to compete. But these are my personal opinions as chairman of the fautasi committee,” Suiaunoa told the gathering on Thursday at the Mata’upu Tau Samoa conference room.
Assistant secretary, Nanai said the Faga’alu matter has been discussed between him and his boss, Lefiti Pese. “It was not an easy issue as we debated it for a long time. Finally we came to the conclusion that we will allow Faga’alu’s second fautasi to compete.”
Fua’o’s skipper Ga’ote’ote put forth a diplomatic solution. He took into consideration the importance of chairman Suiaunoa's objections over Faga’alu’s second fautasi entry but sided with the decision made by Nanai and Lefiti. He offered a compromise.
“To keep the harmony and to ensure a safe tu’uga va’a, I propose that we allow the second Faga’alu fautasi to be included in this year’s fautasi regatta, but let it race in the final of the boats that will not make the Flag Day main championship final.”
The Pago Pago aumaga leader, Uta i Fe’au Lefiu Bill Kalasa warned the meeting attendants that if they prohibited Faga’alu’s second fautasi from competing, the Aeto would pull out too. “O kei o uka i fe’au ia Faga’alu. A le alu Faga’alu o le’a le alu fo’i le Aeko”.
Faga’alu is a part of the Ma’oputasi district. Lefiu threatened to pull out all the district’s fautasi (Aua, Pago Pago, Fagatogo, Faga’alu) from the 2012 Flag Day tu’uga va’a. The captains all agreed to Ga’oteote’s idea.
Representing the village of Faga’alu at the meeting were the leader of the aumaga, captain Shimasaki and orator and boat builder, Uso. The failauga thanked everyone for their vote of confidence and agreed to the plan that their second boat would race in the Monday, April 16 but not in the heat on Saturday next week.
Only three fautasi that will race on Saturday, April 14 have paid the registration fees of $300. They are: Pago Pago Aeto and the two fautasi from Faga’alu. Nanai warned that if other fautasi did not meet the 4 pm deadline next Monday to pay their entry fees, they would be disqualified.
“It seems you just don’t care,” he told the captains. “You have money. Well, let me warn you again. No money, no kuku’u. Mark my word”.
Nanai also advised to compete in a gentleman’s way. “I don’t want to hear a captain using profanity against his fellow skipper and his auva’a. Let's be patient and keep the peace.”
The final meeting for all parties will be held on the morning of Wednesday, April 5 at the Office of Samoan Affairs to finalize everything connected to the 2012 Flag Day fautasi activities.