By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: 06 June 2012: The Segavao 3 long boat, rowed by Don Bosco students dream of winning Samoa’s 50th independence jubilee anniversary fautasi regatta has come true when they dominated a strong field that have been selected after two elimnation heats.
Captained by the uncompromising female skipper Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, Segavao slid into third place when the gun went off. Following suit in fourth place was Segavao 2 also rowed by Don Bosco students and leading the pact was veteran racer Telefoni o le Vainuu and Manulele Tautala in second place.
A change of placing started to take place as the race reached the Mulinu’u peninsular when Segavao 3 and La o Samoa sailed past other fautasi keeping pace with the leaders. While the race took on a new turn, Little Rina from Apia and last years champion, Le Tolotolo o Tamauli from Salelologa was having a race of their own. The boats were both vying for limited space as they came too close to land when rowers from Little Rina allegedly used their oars to beat rowers of the Tolotolo which landed two rowers in the water. Both captains Pauli Ivan Williams and Tialino Talauati Tolovae were not aware of the incident until after the race.
Tialino of Little Rina apologized to Pauli for costing Tolotolo o Tamauli the race.
“I believe it was our fault that Tolotolo has failed in the race,” said Tialino.
Tialino told Talamua that their boat broke its steering (uli) before the race started and they approached a committee member for time to change their steering.
However, the committee turned the request down as it would hold up the race.
“I had two choices, to race using an oar as the steering stick or forget the race,” said Tialino.
At the end he decided to race because he felt for his crew who had been camping for five weeks only to be denied the chance to race.
Another committee member said that whoever Tialino approached should have stopped Little Rina from racing as it was too risky an unsafe. But the incident of getting too close and interfering another racing fautasi oars could explain the steering problem.
When asked for a comment, defending champion, Pauli Ivan Williams of Tolotolo o Tama Uli said “to leave it to God.”
Itwas a very strong field as most of the fautasis are all former champions and were no strangers to the sea, however, Segavao’s win by a distance was a “milestone” and Vaimasenu’u and her crew are credited for physical and mental fitness.
The race was one of the highlights of the 50th anniversary celebrations and a huge crowd lined the seawall to witness one of the biggest races of all independence celebrations. Banners of different colours were hanging from houses, cars even trees sending out messages of encouragement to the racers.
Segavao 3 took the 50th anniversary trophy, $50,000 and the revolving fauatsi regatta trophy, and all other fautasis received cash prices. Second place Telefoni o le Vainuu $40,000, third place Manulele o le Tautala $30,000, fourth place Tavaesina from Manono, fifth place Le Tolotolo o Tamauli from Salelologa $10,000, sixth place Segavao 2 $8,000, seventh place Fetu ole Moana $6,000 and Fetuao from Tiavea in ninth place $5,000.
Little Rina from Apia could continue the race had to settled for a consolation price together with other fautasis that did not qualify for the finals.
Last years independence champion Le Tolotolo o Tamauli captain Pauli Ivan Williams presented this years champion Segavao 3 captain Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel during the prize giving that closed the activities for the 50th independence celebrations.