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Captains reject two heats; just nine fautasi in race

Now that only nine fautasi will be competing in the 2015 Fautasi Race regatta, the captains and representatives of villages who have boats in the race have rejected Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s recommendation to hold two fautasi races.


Captains and village representatives who attended a fautasi committee meeting yesterday at the Office of Samoan Affairs contend that the only reason for two ‘heats’ is when there are a lot of fautasi in the race and two races are necessary to ensure the safety at sea of all boats and crew members as well as making it easier for the committee to control the race.


At last week Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo recommended to the Fautasi Race Committee, chaired by Lualemaga Faoa, who is also the Western District Governor, to hold two races to ensure that the community enjoys the fautasi race, saying that this is always the main event of any Flag Day celebration.


He also said that it's not fair for fautasi teams to be training for many weeks leading up to the race, which then lasts only 30 minutes. He says such a short race is not so wonderful to the people who watch and enjoy fautasi races.


At yesterday’s fautasi meeting, Lualemaga noted the governor’s recommendation but added that the Fautasi Committee does not make such a final decision by itself. He then asked those in the meeting for their views on holding two races.


Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, captain of the Fuao fautasi from Vatia, noted that all teams have already picked papers, which selected their lanes for the race. He said that he would support two heats if there were 12 boats registered because two races would make it easy to control such a race but there are now only nine confirmed fautasi (previously, ten were confirmed).


Now it’s only appropriate and right to have only one race, said Gaoteote, who is also the Senate President.


And if the governor wants to ensure that the community enjoys the fautasi race, Gaoteote called on the public to come out to the shoreline during fautasi practice to watch as each fautasi team will show their talents during these practice runs.


Other captains and village representatives agreed with Gaoteote.


(Samoa News notes that not at yesterday’s meeting were representatives for the Fetu o le Afiafi fautasi from Fagaalu and the Segavao II fautasi from Samoa. The latter boat, skipper and crew are expected to arrive in the territory on Apr. 9.)


Fagasoaia Leafaitafea, who represents Manulele Tausala I of Nu’uuli, officially informed the meeting that the second boat from Nu’uuli will not race this year, although it has already paid the $300 registration fee. (It’s not immediately clear if the village will get a refund.)


Paopaoailua J. Fiaui, representing Paepaeulupoo II of Aua agreed with only one race, especially with only nine fautasi. However, he added that if the governor wants two races, then each race should get monetary prizes — a statement that brought laughter from those attending the meeting.


Gaoteote asked the Fautasi Committee if the governor had made a decision on whether there is a registration fee of $300 for this year’s race. He said all fautasi have paid this money and if the registration is free, than the money needs to be refunded.


Lualemaga responded that the governor is firm on the decision that the registration fee is $300, which is a big decrease from the original fee of $1,000.


While no date is set yet, the Fautasi Committee plans to call another meeting soon to finalize the time of the race, which is currently set for Apr. 16, a day before Apr. 17, the official Flag Day ceremony.


(See Samoan version of this story below  under the banner of 2015 Flag Day Preps, brought to you in Community Service in partnership with GHC Reid, Co. Ltd., and Samoa News.)