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Samoa News spoke to the skipper of the winning fautasi of yesterday morning’s 2013 Flag Day Fautasi Race about how he felt during yesterday’s race — was it something he expected, or was it just another unfair American Samoa fautasi race similar to the past races that everyone complains about.


Captain Gaoteote Tofau Palaie said, “I would first like to thank Tutuila and Manu’a for their support, especially the ones who are praying for the best of our young youth members who are all part of this event, not only to our boat, but also to all the boats who were part of this historical event today.”


He added, “E momoli atu le fa’afetai i le tapua’iga a si o matou nu’u, i le afifio o Gaoteote ma Tagoilelagi ma Nofofanau ma Usoali’i, i le fetalaiga fo’i a i le Vaomatua ma le fetalaiga i le Sau, but as to the race today, I believe that our island has witnessed a wonderfully coordinated race.”


Gaoteote, who is also the Senate President, noted that it was like the whole island had front row seats to the race, and the committee should have it like this every year — so that everyone who lives in American Samoa can come to the shorelines and witness the race from start to finish.


“I believe that everyone enjoyed the race, especially that they got to witness it from the shorelines from the beginning of the race to the finish. I know it wasn’t easy because it was windy and the swells were quite rough.”


He said that he is thankful that Vatia got their turn to be American Samoa Flag Day Fautasi Race champs. “I know there were a lot of good and tough boats out there in today’s race, but I am very grateful and thankful that we finally have an opportunity to take the “mua” this year, and it wasn’t easy because all the boats that raced today were all aiming for first place.”


Captain Gaoteote told Samoa News, “during the beginning of the race, all the boats that were at the starting point were well aligned and disciplined to start a fair race. We had been out there since 6:30 am to try and straighten out our lanes, but we couldn’t do anything, because Faga’alu’s boat took a long time to get to the starting point.”


He added, “but the beginning of the race to me was fair, all the boats were behind the starting flag, and I know none of the fautasi crews wanted to be in front of the starting flag, because there were a lot of people witnessing the starting of the race.”


Gaoteote spoke of how he and his crew members felt when they made the turn from the final buoy, heading towards the finish line, “when we were heading into Utulei, I told my crew that our boat is not the kind of boat that is fast in the calm conditions of the water we were getting to, but it would be their strength that I am depending on that would take us to the finish line to win.”


He explained, “I turned to my left side, and I saw Va’amua and the Aeto already trailing close behind us, so I was kind of worried because I know for a fact that the Aeto fautasi is not an easy boat to compete with, but I tried my best to push our auva’a and I changed our pace to try and break away from the Aeto, and we did successfully.”


On behalf of his crew members and committee, the Fuao skipper wanted to thank all of those who supported them throughout their preparations, up to yesterday when they reached their goal for this year’s race, including “all the pastors and reverends in our village, because these are some of our main supporters who hsbr been praying and supporting us throughout the beginning of our journey.”


He added, “I especially want to thank our village of Vatia, because I know there are a lot of people in our village, but they selected me to take part as the captain of our fautasi, and the leader to train Toleafoa and the Aumaga on our journey to 1st place.”


He concluded, “I can’t thank my village of enough for what they have done for us, and the tremendous support they’ve shown not only through finance, but with food and water when we had our crew lockdown.


I would especially like to thank the youth members of our village, because majority of the youth I took on board during the race are all in high school. We took out some of our experienced rowers and threw in the youth to row for us because they have big hearts. All I do is steer the boat, but when I needed to lean on them, the youth got stronger, which brought us to the finish.


“Last but not least, I would like to thank my brother Vaiolo Taliga Vaiolo, I know he was the captain for Manu’a’s fautasi crew, but I asked him to come help us and work with us.


“Vatia, thank you so much for your support, especially to our committee members because not one person can do this alone.


“I would lastly like to wish American Samoa a happy flag day,” he stated.