Fetu Ole Afiafi #1 was the fastest fautasi of the four boat race, outdistancing the Paepaeoulupo’o, the second Faga’alu boat and Fagasa’s expensive high tech fautasi to take top honors in the Monday final. [photo: FV]

Faga’alu’s late entry, the Fa’asaulala raced on Monday’s final with the three fautasi that did not qualify in the heat last Saturday for the championship final on April 18. 

Captain Mitch Shimasaki proved that his crew and the Faga’alu fautasi should have been in the 2012 Flag Day main fautasi championship final scheduled for 8 Wednesday morning.

Shimasaki’s fautasi had to play catch up when the Sailele tug boat’s horn went off to signal the start of the Monday afternoon faigamea ile tai.  His fautasi, Fetu Ole Afiafi #1 was the fastest fautasi of the four boat race as he outdistanced the Paepaeoulupo’o, the second Faga’alu boat and Fagasa’s expensive high tech fautasi to take top honors in the Monday final.

Leonard Sonoma Liufau’s Aua fautasi came in second.  He warded off a last minute challenge thrown at him by the Fealofani Samoa lll skipper, Tupuola Sopo’aga who mounted a late push for second place. Manutafea Isitolo Fano’s second Faga’alu fautasi came in fourth place.

Samoa News reporter, Tony Gasu was at the Faga’alu camp after the faigamea ile tai and talked to captain Shimasaki about his success on Monday’s consolation mua. Teioutaifea’u also shared his thoughts on last Saturday’s debacle at sea.  He told Gasu that the committee did a better job in controlling the race on Monday compared to that of last Saturday.

“The race was good, even though the sea was sort of rough out there but the race was very good. The beginning of today’s race was way better than how the race started on Saturday.”

He added, “I know on Saturday our boats and some of the boats next to us didn’t hear the horn blow, and it cost us the race when we saw all the other boats were already rowing, but we were still patiently waiting for the horn to blow from the Tatoso.   However as to Monday’s race, it was very well coordinated and I want to give thanks to the committee for a job well done”.

Shimasaki told Gasu the crew that won the race for Faga’alu on Monday was the same one that raced last Saturday with one exception. “It’s still the same fautasi crew. There was only one member of our crew that wasn’t able to go today because he had to go to the hospital, but it was the same crew from Saturday.”

Teioutaifeau told Gasu he had to change his approach for Monday’s race.  “Today (Monday) was a big difference from Saturday. We realized what we had done wrong on Saturday, and we noticed some of the slacks that we experienced during last Saturday’s race. Our auva’a was calm, settled, and mainly focused. Every single rower paid attention to his oar.”

Shimasaki said he did not encounter any problem during the race that would have given him some concern on the outcome of the fa’agatama ile tai.

“Like I said, the crew was focused, but the only problem that we had out there was the ocean tides turning rough, and sea water that came into the our boat that almost gave us a drag, but the auva’a was strong today and ready.”

Teioutaifeau acknowledged captain Manutafea Isitolo Fano of the Fetu o le Afiafi II, for his efforts.  “I want to thank him and his auva’a for their performance today. I know the majority of his crew are all kids, with just two experienced rowers helping them out during the race today.  

“It’s a good thing that these kids were able to experience the “fa’agatama o le tai” for the first time.”  I would also like to thank the auva’a from Aua and the sa from Fagasa, for a great performance today.  Malo lava le fai o le faiva, malo lava le tauva.”

Faga’alu’s pulenu’u, orator Uso Lago’o also thanked the tapua’iga of the victorious Faga’alu village. “First of all we want to thank our Heavenly Father for blessing Teioutaifeau and the aumaga with the race today, our hearts and spirits are filled with joy and happiness, because this is the first time that our village has managed to really compete with a real Faga’alu owned sa”.

Uso told Gasu that even though this was a consolation first place for the Faga’alu fautasi, “we are thankful for it. O le muamua lava o le muamua (First place is first place)”.

Uso said his village taupua’iga was overjoyed when the Fetu ole Afiafi #1 passed the shores of Faga’alu on its way to take first place. “Our village was humbled, and we cheered with humbled hearts and ta’alo fa’atamali’i ma fa’atausala. If only the race on Saturday was coordinated, accordingly like how beautiful the race started today.  However, I will not go back to the past, the past is the past.  Today, our village is just filled with joyful humbled hearts because of the results of our aumaga’s efforts.”

Uso wanted to send out his fa’afetai and acknowledgment to those who have supported the Faga’alu campaign for this year’s Flag Day fautasi activities like, Frank Gaisoa and his TMO company, the governor, gubernatorial candidates and many others.

“On behalf of Faga’alu village I would like to thank you all for supporting our cause.  We have been blessed today, because of your support.

Captain of the $400,000 high tech fautasi from Fagasa, Tupuola Sopo’aga said he knew his auva’a was not up to the task for this year’s race as many of them were new to tu’uga fautasi.  “We didn’t have enough time to familiarize ourselves with the new fautasi.  We have to teach the rookies a crash course in the art of rowing a high tech boat for only three weeks.  We have a fast boat but it’s a matter of spending a great deal of time learning the new technique of rowing.”

At the sound of the Sa’ilele tugboat horn to indicate the start of the race, Fealofani Samoa lll took the rear position as the Paepaeoulupo’o, and the two Faga’alu Fetu ole Afiafi took off in a hurry.

Fagasa struggled on the swells that were bigger Monday afternoon than they were last Saturday morning. Tupuola’s fautasi was left way back about 10-fautasi length behind the leading Fetu ole Afiafi #1.  However, as soon as it reached the calm waters of Utulei beach, The Fagasa fautasi started to pick up speed.

When the Fealofani Samoa lll started its chase from #4 for a place in the top three fautasi, Tupuola said he encouraged his auva’a to push their foe to the limit of their strength.  That the Fagasa crew did.

As Tupuola began his turn for the home stretch at the red buoy near the Rainmaker Hotel, the Fealofani Samoa lll quickly passed Manutafea’s second Faga’alu fautasi and went chasing his next target, Leonard Liufau’s Aua boat.

 Faga’alu’s skipper on the Fetu ole Afiafi #1, Shimasaki was speeding for the tigi as the fight for second place was taking a life of its own.  Tupuola ordered his crew to give him their fast strokes while Liufau also picked up his pace to create space.  Aua managed to stay ahead by half a fautasi length to take second place.

“I’d like to take a big fa’amalo to my young and inexperienced auva’a for their courage and effort in taking third place after trailing the three fautasi from a long distance.  This proved to me that our Fealofani Samoa lll is a very fast boat.  It’s the auva’a’s lack of knowledge in the new technique of rowing that was the problem. 

“Next year I promise you there will be a new change to our fautasi as we’re going to train hard and prove many people who don’t believe in our va’a”.

Tupuola requested the fautasi committee at a meeting of captains chaired by the Mata’upu Tau Samoa officials on Monday mornig prior to the race to include the top two fautasi from Monday’s race as part of Wednesday’s main championship faigamea ile tai.  As of press time, there was no word whether the Office of Samoan Affairs and the fautasi committee acted on Tupuola’s appeal.

Tupuola thanked his village of Fagasa for its tapua’iga and vowed to come back stronger next year.  “E toe oso fo’i le la.  Fagasa will be back,” Tupuola vowed.

Skipper Tupuola’s famous son, the San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Issac Sopo’aga rowed fore the Fealofani Samoa lll in Monday’s race.  He arrived on island last Thursday with his wife and children to celebrate the 2012 Flag Day with families and friends.  They leave this Thursday.

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 11 fautasi in the 2012 Flag Day tu’uga va’a.  They are: Le Fetu Ole Afiafi (2), 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. 


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