The 6th Vailima Alo Paopao International Paddling Festival and the Sheraton Le Aito V1 Competition was officially launched on Tuesday night.
The launch, at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel, was facilitated by Festival Chairperson, Ulugia Jay Ah Fook-Schuster.
The annual Vailima Alo Paopao Festival promises a week-long event featuring a series of competitive business house regattas and cultural activities.
For this year, over eight international teams from Tahiti, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia are heading to Samoa. It means there will be more than 100 paddlers in Apia for the event.
This year, with support from UN Women, Alo Paopao will also be dedicating the Festival to Ending Violence Against Women (E.V.A.W). Va’as Against Violence will promote awareness by having the signature orange colour on all festival memorabilia.
The first Alo Paopao Festival took place in 2012, in Apia. Before the Festival, there were only two races held per year in Samoa.
“Its success led the organizers to establish it as an annual season, increasing the number of regattas per year. The year long season exposes our local paddlers to competitive racing as well as opening our waters to the rest of the world, all year around,” a statement from the organisers said.
“Alo Paopao will only grow in years to come, with more participants from locations around the Pacific. This has been demonstrated by its growing popularity each year as well as with the growth of other festivals in the region.
In Tahiti, a similar event, the Heiva Festival, attracts 3,000 paddlers annually. In the Cook Islands, Rarotonga gets 2,000 paddlers plus spectators attending every year. The cash injection into the Cook Island economy is approximately NZ$20 million within the two week period.”
The 2017 Festival will run from Friday 25th to Saturday 2nd of September. This year’s event will include an opening Ava Ceremony at Apia Harbour, followed by a sprint competition on Saturday 26th August, which will include junior teams and local business house teams.
This will be followed by V1 races, and a traditional to’onai lunch held at Maninoa Beach, Siumu.
The long distance regattas will be held on Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th August. The Vailima Alopaopao Festival will wrap up with a Cultural Show and Closing Ceremony on Wednesday evening.
On Saturday 2nd September, the second Annual Le Aito V1 International Regatta will be held at Taumesina Island Resort.
The Festival Director, Ulugia, is excited to announce this year’s race will include four of Tahiti’s top V1 paddlers from the prestigious Te Aito Tahiti V1 Competition, as well as top V1 paddlers from New Zealand and Australia. The Te Aito Tahiti, attracts over 600 world class international paddlers to Tahiti every year.
Ulugia hopes over time, we can attract similar numbers and caliber of paddlers to Samoa for this annual event.
“The Festival also signifies the start of the new local paddling season which runs for a full year, starting and ending with the Alo Paopao Festival 2018/19. The season includes eight regatta events in addition to those hosted during the Festival.
In March 2018, the Alo Paopao Festival, will also be holding the second annual Sheraton to Sheraton Marathon.
Ulugia, is hopeful this event will also attract international paddlers and supporters to Samoa during the low season for tourism industry.”