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Ise’ula reduces crew for safety reasons, Or is it?

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 Fa’asaulala will race on the April 16 final for fautasi that do not qualify for the championship final on April 18.

The Ise’ula I Moana From Fagatogo

The captain of the Ise’ula i Moana, Fagatogo’s faipule in the House of Representatives, Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi says he and the committee have decided to reduce the number of crew members from 48 to 36 on board their fautasi as the boat beams are not strong enough to carry the extra weight.

“The Ise’ula is an old fautasi and the wear and tear has taken its toll. We felt the boat could not take a full crew of 48 rowers and so for the safety of our village oarsmen, we have eliminated 12 crew members. The boat glides well without the extra weight. I believe we will perform well in the tu’uga va’a.”

However, several sources tell this correspondent there is some disagreement between the captain, the committee and crew members that have driven potential rowers away from the Fagatogo fautasi camp. 

“Vailiuama and the committee struggle every evening to assemble a full crew for their rowing practices. I don’t know who’s at fault but their differences have affected Fagatogo’s preparations for this year’s race,” one source explains to this correspondent.

Still, Vailiuama says there is no trouble in their camp. He insists the limited crew on board the Ise’ula i Moana is for safety reasons only. “Fagatogo is a sports oriented village and we have prepared well for the faigamea ile tai. Safety for the crew is our number one concern. The deep ocean is an un-dug grave and anything can happen out there that might affect the lives of the Fagatogo rowers and other fautasi crews as well.

“The Ise’ula is ready to race. When the gun goes off to start the heat on Saturday, the Fagatogo crew and captain will fight from the start to the finish for a place in the top six fautasi that will go forward to the main Flag Day fautasi race next week,” the faipule from Fagatogo vows.

Vailiuama has been reappointed by the council of matai to be the captain of the Iseula I Moana. He replaces Pino Mata’afa who skippered the Fagatogo fautasi for the past two years. Vailiuama explains the aumaga selected him to head this year’s campaign ahead of Mata’afa. 

During the church service to bless the beginning of the Fagatogo 2012 Flag Day fautasi campaign, the aumaga revealed to the council of matai its intention and the leaders endorsed Vailiuama as this year’s captain of the Iseula i Moana.

Vailiuama wants the tu’uga va’a to start from five miles or even six miles out of Pago Harbor if the sea is calm on the day of the race. “I want the faigamea ile tai to be really good this year. The five to six mile long race course for this year’s race is adequate as all villages and their crews have prepared well.”

As for the one preliminary heat the 2012 Flag Day fautasi committee, the officials of the Mata’upu Tau Samoa and captains agreed to hold on Saturday April 14, kapiteni Vailiuama says he does not support the idea.

“There is no way the committee can control nine fautasi from the starting line. It is almost impossible to have a fair race given the number of boats that will race in one tu’uga. What the committee should have done was to let the fautasi from Nu’uuli, the champion of the 2011 Flag Day faigamea ile tai go to the championship final next Wednesday and not race in the heat. 

“Nu’uuli has earned that distinction. The committee could have divided evenly the eight fautasi into two heats. That would have been the best solution to guarantee that we have a fair tu’uga va’a. It would have also benefited village supporters as well as guests and spectators. The committee’s work would have been made much easier to control the fautasi at the starting line”.

The faipule from Fagatogo and captain of the Iseula i Moana was not present in the meetings the issues he is objecting to, after the fact.

Skipper Vailiuama says Fagatogo has invested $18,000 in the remodeling of the fautasi for this year’s Flag Day campaign. “I would like to thank the many wonderful people from our village as well as friends and families outside Fagatogo who donated money and materials to our cause. Last year’s $1,000 fautasi prize Fagatogo received plus funds the aumaga raised have all been used to make repair work for our boat and to fund other fautasi related activities,” faipule Vailiuama explains.

The Fagatogo captain says his crew has been training for over a month with trainer, Ranger Dynamite Fa’agata leading the crew in roadwork as well as the aerobics insanity exercises.

“We used Rev. Iasepi Ulu’s church hall for our insanity sessions every morning. We would like to thank him, pastor, Fa’amao Asalele and all the ministers of different churches in Fagatogo for their spiritual guidance and prayers offered for the our success”.

Vailiuama believes the 2012 Flag Day race will be one of the best and toughest. “I base my belief in the time and effort village crews and committees have put into their preparations. Every captain wants to win. All have done what is necessary to take the mua for village pride. If any captain has not made the necessary training to ensure success, it’s a waste of time to be out there and is a disrespect to his village and supporters.

“The Iseula captain and crew are ready to do battle for our village of Fagatogo. We will do everything in our power to bring honor and glory to our village tapua’iga. We would like to offer our fa’afetai tele to the village council of matai and all our supporters for their help. We will not disappoint you all,” Vailiuama says.