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Fautasi Fiva 2019: Matasaua crew is ready to glide to the finish line

The 2019 Matasaua crew — with skipper Malaepule Fuega Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 38-strong who will be rowing the Matasaua fautasi in the 2019 Flag Day fautasi race this Saturday, April 13th, are ready to go, and they have their eyes set on one thing: 1st Place.

"Everyone aims for First Place," Matasaua skipper Malaepule Fuega Moliga told Samoa News, during a brief interview this past Monday at the team's faleva'a in Fagaalu. Coverage of this year's Flag Day Fautasi Fiva is sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.

The training regimen has been ongoing for about a month and one of the team's trainers, Molipe Vaiolo, said the guys are looking good and they are ready for action.

 "We are ready," he said.

It was Vailolo who captained the Matasaua to its highest standing ever — Third Place in the 2012 Flag Day fautasi race. (The Matasaua — skippered by Malaepule — came in Second Place ten years ago but it wasn't for the Flag Day race, it was a Coastweeks Fautasi challenge).

Since then, the team has dwindled in the standings, never finishing in the Top 3 — always in the shadow of other powerhouses like Nuuuli's Manulele Tausala (Low Rider) and Vatia's Fuao.

This year, their confidence level is high, the training is intense, and pride is what's fueling the team to go for Gold.

Of the 38 crew members, Malaepule said a handful are high school students, some as young as 15-16 years old. The oldest is in his 40s.

“The crew include men with roots in Olesega, Ofu, Fitiuta, Ta'u, and Faleasao,” Malaepule said. “They don't live in Manu'a, but they are descendants of people who were born and raised in the Manu'a Islands.”

The team is taking its cue from head trainer Alumamalu Filoialii and his team: Sasulei Moliga, Junior Lauvao, and Molipe Vaiolo.

According to the official list of lane assignments, based on a draw that took place at the Office of Samoan Affairs last week, Matasaua is in Lane #9.