FAUTASI FIVA — and the winner is Manulele Tausala of Nu’uuli
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — It’s been 3 years since American Samoa has had its annual fautasi race, until this past Saturday, April 15, 2023 where the traditional tu’uga va’a was once again revived, and the Manulele Tausala of Nu’uuli, with Manutafea Taufete’e as its captain came out as the 2023 Flag Day Fautasi race Champions.
Chairman of the Flag Day Fautasi Race Committee, Taotasi Archie Soliai, verified the win in an interview on the KVZK broadcast of the event.
Manulele Tausala will receive the Lealaifuaneva Peter Reid Perpetual Cup, donated by GHC Reid and Samoa Ford Motors, and the $20,000 monetary prize in addition to the title.
Paepaeulupo’o of Aua with captain Utaifeau Leonard Liufau came in 2nd place and will receive $17,000; Fagasa’s Feoalofani Samoa with their captain Atuatasi Aga Seigafo took 3rd place and will receive $15,000, with the Aeto of Pago Pago captained by the youngest of skipper’s this year, Hank Sesepasara coming in at 4th place and will receive $13,000. Coming in at 5th place is the Iseula O le Moana of Fagatogo and their skipper, Taisaliali’i Lefiti and will receive $10,000.
The Taema of Leone with captain Senator Faiivae Alex Godient and Matasaua of Manu’atele, with Senator Malaepule Saite Moliga at the helm, tied for 6th place and both will receive $8,000. Taema and Matasaua were unable to complete the race when Taema started taking on water. Matasaua offered Taema assistance, in an excellent display of sportsmanship and camaraderie in the highly competitive race — and then as a result also began to take on water (See photos).
It is reported that the rescue crews from the Department of Search and Rescue retrieved rowers and captains from both fautasi and brought them safely to shore.