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Alo O Samoa Outrigger team medals in Alo Paopao Vailima Festival

The Alo o Samoa team: Front row left-right:  April Esera (ASPA), Erika Radewagen (Alo Club), Ta'aloga Tupa'i-Drabble (Alo Club)  Back row left-right: Malama Petaia (Alo Club), Cherith Lober (GHC Reid & Co.), Matamua Katrina Mariner (ASPA), Arbor Day Mata'afa (ASPA)  [courtesy photo]
Source: Alo o Samoa media release

Alo O Samoa Outrigger sent an open women's team to Apia over the weekend to represent American Samoa against Apia and New Zealand teams in the 4th Annual Alo Paopao Vailima Festival in Apia.

The festival is a weeklong outrigger-paddling event with short distance and long distance races for both single paddlers and 6-paddler va'a. It includes cultural performances (faafiafiaga) throughout the week leading up to the races.

The team took second place behind Apia's Laumei Outrigger Canoe Club in the 250-meter sprint with a time of 1 minute 37.36 seconds for a silver medal; while, Alo O Samoa Erika Radewagen medaled bronze in the Masters Women's V1/OC1 4 kilometer race held at Maninoa the following day.

The women's team from Tutuila consisted of wellness program paddlers April Esera, Arbor Day Mata'afa and Katrina Mariner from the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), Cherith Lober from GHC Reid & Co. and Alo O Samoa club paddlers Malama Petaia, Erika Radewagen, and Ta'aloga Tupa'i Drabble.   

According to Radewagen, "We originally looked at entering the Apia business house (corporate) mixed category but there weren't enough wellness paddlers available for the race, so we decided to organize an open women's team and compete at the club level. It gave our newer paddlers a chance to experience the international race scene and get some of our experienced paddlers back into international racing. 

“Some of New Zealand and Australia's top paddlers came over to compete on Samoa's already competitive paddling scene. A handful of these paddlers just finished some intensive training for the IVF World Sprints that were held in Australia this past May and we got a chance to race with them.

“We're all very proud that our team did so well and we all had a great time at the event," she said.

The Alo Paopao Festival timing provided an excellent opportunity for available and interested wellness paddlers to compete in sprints at the international club level. 

The local-based Alo O Samoa Outrigger launched their wellness paddling pilot program in February 2016 integrating the activity within the established wellness programs at GHC Reid & Co and ASPA. 

The program’s companies paddle up to twice a week at the Pala Lagoon with canoes provided by Alo O Samoa and Au Va'a Laumei Outrigger Canoe Clubs. 

Wellness teams began competing in June in monthly fun races coordinated by the companies to begin preparing for the upcoming Coastweeks outrigger race organized by the AS Department of Commerce.

For more results and photos, please see the Alo Paopao Festival Facebook page