Paddlers gear up for Le Aito

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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Nofo Lameko.

Nofo Lameko. (Photo: Deidre Tautua – Fanene)

Taumeasina Island Resort welcomed some very special guests on Wednesday who are here for the second Le Aito V1 Paddling Regatta, which starts tomorrow.

Top Tahitian paddler, Chaley Maitere, was joined by the winner of the 2015 X-Factor New Zealand, Beau Monga, and Nofo Lameko and Tyrone Schwalger who will entertain during a post-regatta concert at the resort on Saturday night.

Afamasaga Jackie Curry said the arrival of the paddlers and entertainers is exciting for Samoa.

 “For the paddling, we brought  Charley over from and his wife, Bridget Maitere. They are senior paddlers who have been paddling for many years in Tahiti and he is one of the organisers of the Te Aito Paddling Regatta as well.”

At the moment, Tahiti is the paddling capital of the Pacific. Their regattas attract more than 600 international paddlers every year and Samoa wants a slice of the pie.

 “The reason our committee is starting the Le Aito here is to promote paddling and to bring in more V1 paddlers to Samoa because V1 paddlers are different from V6.

“There are people that just specialise in V1 paddling and there are certain top paddlers.

“In fact, we have one of the top V1 junior paddlers for New Zealand who is actually here as well and of course, from Tahiti, we also have Noho Tahiata.

“These are all the people that we have brought to Samoa to try and promote this event and we hope to attract more international V1 paddlers next year and going forward.”

Afamasaga went on to say that the Le Aito Regatta is the vision of their chairperson, Ulugia Jay Ah Fook Schuster.

“He wants to bring in these international events to develop paddling and bring in more paddlers, and also to help the tourism industry in Samoa because not only do they, they bring their families too,” she said.

Charley and Bridget Maitere from Tahiti.
Charley and Bridget Maitere from Tahiti.
Tyrone Schwalger.
Tyrone Schwalger.

“The Le Aito is different from the Alo Paopao Festival which we just finished yesterday.

“Now for the beach party, we have brought over the New Zealand X-Factor 2015 winner, Beau Monga, and Nofo Lameko, who was in the top 10 of New Zealand X-Factor 2015, as well.

“Beau and Nofo will be performing at the beach party on Saturday, along with one of favourite local bands, the Ozki Boys, and Tyrone Schwalger.

“That will be on Saturday night and tickets are available for $30 at Te Namo and M&J Ah Fook, as well as on the door on the night.

“We want to encourage everyone to come down and watch the races from 3pm to 5pm and stay on for the beach party which will be starting at 5pm. This is a joint promotion to bring artists as well as the paddlers over to Samoa.”

Maitere said he is happy to be in Samoa for the first time.

“It was an invitation from Ulugia Jay Ah Fook of Alo Paopao to come and participate in the paddling regatta this coming Saturday, which is the Le Aito Paddling Regatta,” he said.

“Aito is the V1 race in Tahiti and it is one of the biggest races back home so we call it Aito.

“We are happy to be in Samoa to participate and be one of the special guests of the Le Aito and help with the economy, as well.

“We are looking forward to this coming Saturday and most especially, the beach party -- so have fun and come and witness the paddlers vying for the first place!”

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