“FAIGAMEA ILE TAI” 2014 IS ALL ABOUT THE TEAMS, THE CAPTAINS, AND THE FAUTASI
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).
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On Wednesday morning, lanes were drawn for 10 fautasi that will participate in the Flag Day race scheduled for next Wednesday morning April 16. The fautasi captains and village representatives picked their lanes during a meeting between the fautasi committee and the villages involved. It was held at the Office of Samoan Affairs in Utulei. Chairman of the fautasi committee, Faoa Lualemana conducted the fono.
The #1 lane, according to the race set up, is closer to the Tafuna International Airport, and the Aeto is in that lane; #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 O Le Afiafi; #10- Matasaua.
According to chairman Faoa, the prize for the Flag Day race championship fautasi, is $20,0000.
“Do Not Try To Bully Us”, Fa’aua’a Warns
Captain of the Fa’asaulala from the village of Vailoa, Fa’aua’a Kata Feru Elisara has issued a stern warning to his fellow kapiteni.
“Do not try to bully us. Do not look down on us. Just because we have re-entered the faigamea ile tai doesn’t mean you can push us around. The Fa’asaulala is not easily scared. We’re the mermaid and the only one in this tu’uga va’a. We can swim fast and swift. By the time you realize what is happening, the Fa’asaulala has crossed the tigi. So beware, be fully aware of the power of the Fa’asaulala.”
The village of Vailoa has been absent from tu’uga fautasi for over five years. But late last year, the leaders decided to revive the sport that their new captain claimed his village was famous for many moons ago. They selected one of their high-ranking matai, le tofa Fa’aua’a to take over the affairs of the Fa’asaulala. Their first race was the DOC one last November where Vailoa came fourth.
This year, the village leaders again appointed Fa’aua’a to head the Fa’asaulala campaign. The skipper says his auva’a is fit and ready.
“We did not rest when the November race was over. We continued our training by playing other sports such as rugby and soccer, as many of our auva’a are involved in those organizations. They are young, and are eager to prove that Vailoa belongs with the best fautasi in American Samoa. They have the fatu fa’a Tuala (heart of a district patriot).”
The Fa’asaulala auva’a has been camping for over two weeks in one of the village matai’s guesthouses in Vailoa. They run in the morning and row in the evening.
Fa’aua’a may have under his leadership some passionate rowers who are keen to represent Vailoa in faigamea ile tai, but does the ala’alafaga has the boat to beat the odds.
The Fa’asaulala is almost 30 years old and according to the captain, their sa underwent a major overhaul before it was declared safe and seaworthy. Boat builder, Maselino Ioane from Aua and Vailoa’s Iusi Williams were contracted to repair the fautasi.
There are close to 50 potential auva’a who train everyday for the chance to be on the final crew. Fa’aua’a needs 42 strong, fit, and mean rowers to power his Fa’asaulala for the tu’uga va’a.
“Our committee will make the final selection sometime next week,” Fa’aua’a said.
The Vailoa fautasi committee is chaired by Fa’avi Aulelava a former Fa’asaulala skipper. Others assisting him are: Pitovao Tasi, Lupe Ponalio Asa Pasa Seumalo and Aumatagi Sam.
Fa’aua’a is using his experience from the military to discipline his auva’a. “The young rowers sometimes don’t listen to instructions, are not punctual, and do not follow directions when given by committee members. That is where my military training comes in handy.”
The Vailoa high talking chief served in the Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2000 for seven years. He was with the local BLT Bravo Co. and was the unit’s second in command holding the rank of sergeant.
Fa’aua’a received the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth highest individual award in the US military and the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) for his services during the Iraq war.
He was medically discharged and received full retirement benefits after serving in the Army Reserve for more than 15 years. Fa’aua’a is working at the Attorney General’s Office as chief investigator. He has been employed there for many years and served under eight Attorneys General.
Fa’aua’a is married to Katerina Timu Elisara and they have two sons and three daughters. He is an assistant minister with the Vailoa CCCAS.
The Vailoa captain would like to thank the leaders of his village, the CCCAS pastor, Faletoi and wife Violina Uso, and heads of other denominations, families and friends and supporters from Vailoa for their help, love and prayers offered for the success and safety of the Fa’asaulala crew.
“It has been hard and tough for all of us who are involved in this campaign but with your support shown through various ways and means, we’re able to stand proud and tall. We promise that the Fa’asaulala crew and committee will do all they can to fight hard for the name and honor of our village. Ia manuia le tapua’iga,”