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Vatia’s Fua’o christened on Saturday

“There have been many tales told about this fautasi,” sermonized Rev. Iopu Auva’a, a Methodist minister from the village of Vatia.

“Some say the new fautasi looks like a bathtub, others believe it resembles a swimming pool, but with God at the forefront, this bathtub and swimming pool will take first place.”

Rev. Auva’a delivered the main homily during the christening of the new Vatia fautasi, the Fua’o last Saturday. Governor Togiola Tulafono was invited to christen the boat by pouring fresh young coconut (niu) water on its bow.  Lt. Governor Faoa Sunia’s wife, Elisapeta cut the ribbon.

Togiola has deep ties to the village. His parents served there for many years as Vatia’s spiritual advisers and pastor. According to the master of ceremony, Afuola Nanai, Togiola spent years of his young life with them.

The governor remarked that the fautasi looked good, but he could see a lot of the crew members with big manava that could hinder the success of the new Fua’o during races.

Afuola reminded the governor that those with huge stomachs he referred to were the cooks, “and naturally cooks have big tummies. But I assure you governor, the crew has been training since January and all are fit and thin.”

Boatbuilder, Maselino Ioane calmed any doubts on the minds of the Vatia people when he said that the new Fua’o would do well in fautasi regatta.

“As I told you in our first meeting when we discussed the building of the fautasi, I would do the best to my ability to construct the best boat. I believe this one will perform well, but it is up to the crew and captain to do their part in reaching that ultimate goal.”

The village has picked the new captain. He is Ga’oteote Tofau, who is also the president of the American Samoa Senate.

Ga’oteote told the dignitaries and well wishers that the Fua’o project did not cost that much. “We spent $50,000 on the boat and $22,000 on the new oars. The whole project cost $72,000.”

Afuola told the gathering that his village did not fundraise.  Where did the money come from?  “God and the Holy Spirit gave us the money to build the fautasi.”

He explained that the village was involved in the initial stages of the work like picking the captain and the crew, but once that was done, they left all the decisions to Ga’ote’ote and tufuga, Ioane.

“We advised the new captain that the success or failure of the new fautasi was in his hands,” Afuola said.

“This project has no aikalafu”, Afuola added. “Everything has been paid for.  When this is over, the village will then pay the tufuga for building the fautasi. We don’t want him to go around and say that the village owes him money.”

The new Fua’o is more than 90 ft long with a crew of more than 40 rowers. The Vatia village decided not to put the fautasi in the water last Saturday. 

It is not known when it will be towed to the Pago Harbor to prepare the crew and Fua’o for the 2012 Flag Day fautasi race in April.