Fautasi Finals ~ American Samoa

As always, it seems, there is controversy.  The fautasi committee was determined to make it a fair race and eliminate any who started over the line, but….

It was a beautiful sunrise as we went out around 6:30 am.

To be honest, it was too rough for many of the boats to go out to the official start, so the line kept moving forward. And the boats kept moving forward. They were all fairly still and in a similar line when the boat in the 6th lane (Iseula) started rowing forward aggressively. The boat in the 7th lane (Fetuoleafiafi) started also, appearing to us like they weren’t quite sure what to do. From the timer’s boat, there was a lot of screaming to them to stop rowing, but they didn’t. Then there was a short countdown and horns blowing and the race was off.  But the two lanes closest to us had a large lead and were already in full motion.

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Sunrise colors at Fatamafuti

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Sunrise over Aunu’u

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Manulele Tausala, Nuuuli’s entry, braved the outer rough water and was the undisputed winner

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The two boats that left the start early

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The other 5 boats had a distance to catch up

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Looking across the harbor just after the start

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Matasaua is the first to catch the leaders

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Looking back towards the further boats

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Manulele Tausala establishes the lead as the village cheers in red from the coast road

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The third and fourth placed boats start to gain on the leaders

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The field getting more even and establishing the placings

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Fuao crossing the finish with Paepaeulupo’o in close fourth

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Our boat captain and two of my fellow timers

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The VIPs watched from the Segaula, the Manu’a interisland ferry

The Nuuuli boat won, and they were the definite winners.  Second place, well….  But we timed as was our job.  The fautasi captains all met and they and the committee decided to leave the places stand as they arrived at the finish line. It was all in Samoan, so I’m not sure exactly what was said, but in the end the captains decided that every boat was over the line. Some more than others. Even the third place boat (Fuao) agreed on the standings.

Ideas for next year were suggested, so hopefully things will continue to become more ‘fair’.

I am just amazed that a team of 50 guys can be coordinated with the heavy oars and low gunnel boats! Very impressive.

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