Seven Top Fautasi compete for 2012 Championship Cup
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.
Faga’alu’s late entry, the Fetu ole Afiafi ll raced on Monday’s consolation final with the three fautasi that did not qualify in the heat last Saturday for today’s championship final.
First place went to captain Mitch Shimasaki’s Fetu ole Afiafi #1 from Faga’alu, 2nd place-Leonard Sonoma Liufau’s Paepaeoulupo’o from Aua, 3rd- Tupuola Sopo’aga’s Fealofani Samoa lll from Fagasa, 4th- Manutafea Isitolo Fano’s Fetu ole Afiafi ll from Faga’alu.
American Samoa is anticipating a fair and competitive tu’uga fautasi on Wednesday morning to climax the 2012 Flag Day activities. Six local long boats and one fautasi from Samoa will compete for the bragging rights, the championship cup, and monetary prizes.
Lanes were drawn at a meeting on Monday between the captains, fautasi committee, and secretary of Mata’upu Tau Samoa, Lefiti Pese and his deputy, Nanai Afuola that was held at the Samoan Affairs’ Potu Fono in Utulei.
The invited fautasi from Salelologa Savai’i, Tolotolo o Tama Uli’s captain, Pauli Ivan Williams drew lane #1 that is closer to the airport. Defending champion, Nu’uuli’s kapiteni, Fanene So’oto picked lane #2. The District of Manu’a skipper, Taliga Vai’olo selected lane #3 while kapiteni Ga’ote’ote Pala’ie Tofau’s Fua’o from Vatia is in lane #4.
The 2010 champion, Aeto from Pago Pago and kapiteni Va’amua Sesepasara and crew have chosen lane #5. The Samoana High School captain, Meauta Mageo and his young auva’a will compete from lane #6 while Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi and the Fagatogo fautasi, Iseulaimoana have the furthest lane (#7) toward the east side of Tutuila.
The Nu’uuli captain was present at the meeting on Monday afternoon, and said the fautasi committee did not reveal the amount of the first prize money the championship fautasi would take home.
“They only told us that it was going to be bigger than last year’s prize but did not reveal any figures,” Fanene So’oto told this correspondent.
This correspondent was able to talk with some of the captains of the fautasi racing in today’s race for their views on the upcoming race.
Fanene said his auva’a is ready to compete. “We’re eager to get it going. We have been preparing for this race for a long time. Last Saturday’s result doesn’t even count (Nu’uuli won the heat last Saturday by more than five fautasi length).
“This is the real race. It is going to be tough for Nu’uuli to defend our title as the #1 fautasi in American Samoa. This fa’agatama ile tai will be the hardest as all seven fautasi crews are strong and their captains are experienced leaders.”
Fanene is confident of his auva’a’s stamina. He has made only two changes to his crew that won the preliminary heat last Saturday. “Two of our auva’a that did not make the tu’uga va’a last week because Saturday was their Sabbath (Seventh Day Adventist Church) will race today for Nu’uuli,” captain Fanene said.
Fanene remarked he was not worried about all the fautasi he was going up against in today’s final of the 2012 Flag Day championship regatta. “I advised my crew not to be intimidated by the other auva’a but to give me their undivided attention and listen to my orders. We have a game plan to follow and if they obey and execute what we have talked about I believe we will bring a successful ending to this tu’uga va’a.”
The Nu’uuli kapiteni said the key to Nu’uuli’s success was to have a quick out of the blocks start. “We have to be fast out of the starting lane and distance ourselves from the rest of the field. All fautasi in this final tu’uga are fast. You can’t make any mistakes out there. I told my auva’a not to be distracted by other crews’ demeanor and disparaging remarks as they are playing mind games out there. If my au alo concentrate and focus to the task at hand, Nu’uuli will be in a good position to make another triumphant run.”
Fanene would like to assure his Nu’uuli village tapua’iga that he and his crew would do everything in their power to defend the title. “Fa’afetai for the prayers and support you have given right from the start of this campaign. With God’s blessing and guidance I pray that our crew will be safe out there and compete in a manner worthy of your support.”
The Pago Pago Aeto chief trainer, Leaoa Eddie Fruean Tua’olo spoke on behalf of captain Va’amua Henry Sesepasara. “Ua saugi le au va’a o le Aeko e kuku’u mo le aso a kaeao (the Aeto crew is ready to race tomorrow).”
Leaoa said they never put their fautasi on the water again after last Saturday’s heat where the Aeto came in second place. “We decided to dry dock our fautasi while the training group and I worked with the auva’a on light road work at the mafa pass, and pulled weights in our fale va’a.”
Leaoa explained the Aeto crew had spent so much energy trying to fight off the Fua’o from Vatia in last Saturday’s preliminary heat that when they finally pulled ahead, the crew was tired to chase after Nu’uuli that won the race.
“We spent a good portion of the heat fighting the Fua’o from the start of the tu’uga va’a. It took over 10 minutes for the Aeto to finally surge ahead. It was like a 36 horsepower engine going up against a 49 horsepower engine. The Fua’o was out stroking us because Vatia had more rowers in their boat than ours.
“When we finally broke free, we then had to go up against another boat with a 46 horse power crew. We could see that we were gaining on Nu’uuli’s fautasi, but it was too little too late.”
However, chief trainer Leaoa said he was pleased to take the second place last Saturday. “To me it was a blessing in disguise because if we won the heat our crew might have gotten over excited and the mua would have made them thick headed.
“After the tu’uga va’a, I went around and congratulated each rower. They were not sad but were happy and looked forward to Wednesday’s championship race.”
The Samoana High School Sharks’s kapiteni, Meauta Mageo said his young crew that is made up of senior, junior, and sophomore students was keen to row for the championship. “With God’s blessing and the Sharks efforts in today’s race, we are hoping to lift the Cup.
“We will be battling the best fautasi today but the students are ready and are eager to do the best they can for their school, their parents, and for themselves. I wish all the captains a good and safe race today.”
Taliga Vai’olo, skipper of the Matasaua fautasi from the district of the Manu’a Sa said he has learned a valuable lesson from last Saturday’s heat.
“It doesn’t pay to be honest. O le’a ou ulavale fo’i ile aso kaeao (I’m going to be impertinent tomorrow).” Vaiolo told this correspondent his fautasi was behind with other boats when the horn from one of the tugboats went off to signal the start of the race last Saturday.
“I didn’t hear the sound of the horn. All of a sudden, my crew observed the fautasi that were in front of us had begun to move away fast. I was caught by surprise when the committee decided to start the tu’uga va’a while we were waiting for those fautasi to move back to be in line with us.
“Well that will not happen tomorrow. If I see fautasi move in front of their lanes, I will move too. I will not be caught off guard again.”
The 2012 championship fautasi faigamea ile tai will start around eight on Wednesday morning. The racecourse distance will be determined on the weather. If the sea is calm, the tu’uga va’a will start from four to five miles out of Pago Harbor. If the swells are high and the sea is rough, the fautasi committee will shorten the distance for safety reasons.