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Everyone has a relative, a friend, or son or even employee that is one of the crew of a fautasi — highlighting the community spirit during Flag Day festivities. For Samoa News, (center) one of the rowers for the Fono — Logo Solomona, our Master Printer — was one of its crew. [photo: TG]
Five fautasi disqualified

After being postponed for four days straight due to nearly a week of terrible weather, including a run on Friday that was deemed “not a race”, this year’s 2016 Flag Day Fautasi qualifying heats finally went down Saturday morning. While, not perfect, one of the heats was ‘re-raced’, the decisions by the Fautasi Committee however were delivered firmly and its members, who include co-chair Lt. Gov. Lemanu P. Mauga and co-chair Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega, drew the line in the water when they stood by their decisions, and made no changes. In the words of Lemanu, “These results are official — I know some of you will not take this well, but we've made the final results of today’s qualifying heats as per the rules and regulations we talked about during the past several meetings.” The meeting between the committee and the captains took place on late Saturday morning, after the heats were done, and the decisions from the meeting were announced on television. This coverage of the 2016 Flag Day Fautasi Race is proudly sponsored and brought to you by Coors Light, solely distributed by GHC Reid & Company - “Family of Fine Beverages” – Oloa o Leala. 2016 FAUTASI COMMITTEE DECISIONS Opening the announcement of the decision by the Fautasi Committee was Mauga, who spoke of one race —the championship race — being set for Monday, and then reminded all captains of the racing rules, and that the results from the heats, which determined the six boats to race in the final, used these established fautasi race rules. Samoa News points out that since this meeting, Monday's race has been postponed to Tuesday, although no official announcement has been made to the media by the committee. Lemanu then spoke, announcing that the first heat was disqualified, while the second heat was official. He did not say the reason for the disqualification, although Samoa News understands it was because the race began before the committee even signaled or sounded the horn to start the race. He said the following made the cut for the final race on Monday from Heat No. 2: the Manulele Tausala I and the Fuao. The fautasi that didn’t make it are the following: Paepaeulupoo III – Aua, Matasaua- Manu’atele; and Manulele Tausala II – Nuuuli. They were disqualified because they were in front of the starting line when the committee signaled the start of the race. Lemanu also said that the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch fautasi participated in the second heat, but they were there to ‘fa’afiafia’ giving a chance to the villages to participate in the competition. He then announced the ‘re-race’ of Heat No. 1. He said the following made the cut: Fealofani Samoa II – Fagasa; Taema II – Leone; Aeto - Pago Pago; and Tama o le Muaau – Faleniu. The two fautasi disqualified from the ‘re-race’ were the Iseulaolemoana III -Fagatogo and the Fetu o le Afiafi – Fagaalu. They were disqualified for not following the rules, said the Flag Day Committee co-chair Lemanu. He then announced the six fautasi that will be competing in the championship race at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The initial plan to have a second race for the bottom seven has also been cancelled, said Lemanu. There will be only one race on Monday. During the televised event, which was also open to the public and media, a representative for the fautasi Paepaeulupo’o III - Aua stood to voice his disappointment with Aua’s fautasi being disqualified for being in front of the starting line when the race began. Paepaeulupo’o III had finished first place with Matasaua II in second place in the second heat, however the committee disqualified these two teams and they lost their slot for the top six. Aua’s representative suggested having a re-race for the Group B as the committee did for Group A, noting that it’s unfair to disqualify Aua when Group A had their chance to a re-race, yet Aua should also be given a chance. Mauga responded with a raised voice, telling Aua to leave things where they are, that the decision has been made and it’s final! He slapped the table and said in Samoan, “Aua kou ke kofokofoa mai iga a’u” (don't you dare challenge me).” Mauga stated strongly that the decision is final and if they change it for Aua, what about the other villages and their fautasi crew. Mauga reminded the captains again of the rules that were set by the committee from the beginning, and that those who disobeyed would be disqualified. He pointed out that some of the fautasi were in front of the starting line, another crew showed unacceptable behavior (amio le tau pulea) yet another crew showed poor sportsmanship. (He was referring to Faga’alu for unacceptable behavior, causing trouble at the finish line, while Fagatogo for poor sportsmanship — they apparently tangled oars with the Aeto at the finish line.) Mauga said that the fautasi committee will enforce their rules now, because if not now, when will they ever be enforced? The co-chair of the Flag Day Committee was referring to past races where there have been complaints against previous fautasi committees for not enforcing race rules by disqualifying those who don’t follow the rules. Mauga, who is Secretary of Samoan Affairs and is the Paramount Chief of Ma’oputasi of the villages Faga’alu to Aua, mentioned Fagatogo by name saying that the decision is final. The heats were covered by Samoa News on the Sau Ia! vessel owned by the Leala Peter Reid family. The vessel’s participation in the 2016 Flag Day Fautasi race is sponsored by Powerade and Vaimalu, distributed solely by GHC Reid Co.; Napa Samoa; Peter E. Reid Stevedoring Inc.; and Samoa Motors. HEAT NO. 2 – OFFICIAL Heat No. 2 was composed of Group B: (1) Fuao - Vatia; (2) Paepaeulupoo II - Aua; (3) Matasaua - Manu’atele; (4) Manulele Tausala II; (5) Manulele Tausala I, and both fautasi of the Legislative and Executive Branches for lanes (6) & (7). As previously noted, the Committee later disqualified three of the fautasi for being in front of the starting line when the beginning of the race was sounded. It ran 2 miles, starting over by Lauli’i-Aua. Final decision: Fuao – Vatia and Manulele Tausala I qualified for the final race. Without the disqualification the standings were Paepaeulupoo II - Aua (1st place), Matasaua - Manu’atele (2nd), and Manulele Tausala I - Nu’uuli (3rd), Fuao – Vatia (4th), Sinapioa – Executive Branch (5th), Manulele Tausala II – Nuuuli (6th) and Iseulaolemoana II- Legislative Branch (7th). The race, which started right in front of Matafao point, didn’t determine a leader at that time, as all fautasi crews were in full power racing side by side. It wasn’t until the race reached Su’igaula o le Atuvasa Park that Samoa News spotted the Paepaeulupo’o II of Aua, starting to break away from the group of competitors who were scrambled in the middle as they headed toward the Rainmaker buoy. The Matasaua II from Manu’a showed a big improvement as they caught up with the Paepaeulupo’o from Aua just behind the main dock – but Teioutaife’au Leonard Sonoma changed Aua’s pacing strategy, which separated the Paepaeulupo’o from the Matasaua II and the remaining competitors. Not even a half a mile toward the finish line, the Matasaua II put on a show and picked up the pace – they came back and caught up to Aua just behind the Malaloa Dock. It was an exciting finish to the second heat, as the Paepaeulupo’o II finished in 1st by half of a fautasi length in front of the Matasaua II, which came in 2nd. HEAT NO. 1 – RE-RACE OFFICIAL The re-run of Heat No. 1 was done after the Heat No. 3 was done. Group A was composed of: (1) Fealofani Samoa II; (2) Tama o le Muaau - Faleniu; (3) Aeto - Pago Pago (4) Iseulaolemoana III; (5) Fetu o le Afiafi - Fagaalu, (6) Taema II - Leone. It began just behind the Rainmaker Hotel point, with all six fautasi lined up for a second try to official standings. The race was estimated to be less than 2 miles, shorter than the original heat. At the sound of the horn, the Taema II from Leone, which was closer to the cannery side, was spotted leading over the other five competitors. However, Samoa News spotted the Fealofani Samoa II slowly inching toward the lead, stayed focused on the same lane that put them in front during the past two disqualified heats. When the group reached the market area, there was no question, as the Fealofani Samoa II took the lead by half a fautasi ahead of the Taema II. Fagasa maintained their lead all the way to the finish line to again come in first, as Taema II came in 2nd, the Aeto, who ended up tangling oars with the IseulaoleMoana III just before the finish line— came in 3rd, Fagatogo then came in 4th, Faleniu’s Tama o le Mua’au in 5th, and the Fetu o le Afiafi from Faga’alu settled for 6th place. Qualifiers from this heat were the first, second, third and fifth place winners — with Fagatogo and Faga’alu being disqualified by the Committee. Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu, Samoa News Reporter contributed to this story.