Fautasi Races ~ Day 1 Heats ~ American Samoa

Our outrigger paddling club volunteered to be the timers for the Fautasi races.  We are pretty used to doing it for our canoe races, so I think we are a good choice!  And we aren’t too biased, being all from different villages.

American Samoa’s main island of Tutuila celebrates Flag Day each year on April 17 in commemoration of becoming an official US territory. Events held throughout the week provide an excellent opportunity to experience the traditions of Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan way).

The highlight of the week’s festivities is the Fautasi races. These long, low-gunnel, open canoes are rowed by pairs of men with oars. Up to 50 men power each canoe. In order to practice and keep the team organized, all members of the fautasi team sleep in a traditional fale, eat, and train together for the month leading up to the races. The villages are very competitive and will decorate the palm trees and buildings lining their section of the main road with their village colors. The races can be quite dramatic as the low boats flood and capsize easily, the ocean can be very rough, and many of the oarsmen can’t swim!

This year for our first race day we were lucky to have very good conditions, and a very smooth race day.  The top 7 boats will advance to the finals tomorrow.

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Lovely rainbow over Fogatogo as we head out around 8 am.

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Our first heat of five boats lining up for the start

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The start!

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Another rainbow behind the contestants. Really perfect weather for the races, not much wind and smooth seas. 

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The leaders passing Fatamafuti as they enter the harbor

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Governor’s mansion on the bluff above the harbor

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Winner of the first heat ~ Manulele Tausala

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Second across the finish ~ Matasaua

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In third ~ Iseula o le Moana

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Fourth ~ Fetuoleafiafi

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Resting after the finish

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Back into position for the start of the second heat of four boats

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Paepaeulupoo pulls ahead quickly

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As they enter the harbor, Fauo is pulling closer but Paepaeulupoo is still in the lead

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They are bow to bow as they near the finish, but Paepaeulupoo (blue) ends up winning in a very close and exciting finish. 

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Cheers from the winning team. Both teams have faster times than the first heat.

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Taema looking good as they finish third.

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Aeto finishes in fourth, and unfortunately won’t make the finals.

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Our awesome timing crew: Jean, April, Katrina, and Natalia (pc Natalia on these)

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Natalia, Kat and John

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Jean, April, and Natalia

Check in tomorrow for the finals!

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