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.
Check in tomorrow for the finals!