Samoa’s biggest international outrigger paddling festival, Matson Alo Paopao, was launched at the Matson Inc.’s agent office, Matautu Wharf yesterday.
The event also marked the launch of the Le Aito V1 International Regatta competition.
Over eight international teams and 100 international paddlers are registered for the festival, with 30 international paddlers confirmed to compete in the Le Aito V1 regatta that starts on August 18.
The week-long festival, which has been running for seven consecutive years, will feature a series of competitive races and cultural activities.
Festival Chairperson, Ulugia Jay Ah Fook said for this year, they have mainly had New Zealand and Australia as international paddlers.
“Challenges faced are equipment needed, it will be fortunate to have a boat building company in Samoa. But of course funding is always a big challenge, which is why we are so grateful to our sponsors for their support,” Ulugia said.
“It would be nice to get support from the Government because the sport is a big part of our culture not only that, we are surrounded by the ocean.
“The level over the years of Alo Paopao has changed immensely with the great emphasis on promoting and pushing paddling as a sport not only for paddling clubs, but for everyone. In Samoa, there are five or six registered clubs but four active clubs. We try to work together to develop the sport and the skill level.”
Director of Molida Shipping Agency, JR Anthony Pereira, who is also the representative of Matson Inc., said this year marks their fifth year in Samoa.
“We are thrilled to sponsor the 2018 Matson Alo Paopao Festival. We are both navigators of the ocean as you are all well aware, we are a shipping company.”
There will be mid distance V6 races taking place on August 20, which will feature seven kilometers mixed open and masters races. A long distance V6 regatta to be held on August 21 that will feature 12 kilometers races for masters and women divisions, but the most anticipated sprint races are scheduled for August 26.
All events will be held at the Sheraton Beach Resort with the exception of Beach Day on August 22 at Ocean Club Maninoa featuring traditional mailo umu lunch and fun V1 relay races.
Corporate sponsors are Sheraton Samoa Hotel & Resort, Vailima Breweries, M&J Ah Fook, Fausaga Va’a, Samoa Airways, and Pacific Forum Line.
Supporters include Digicel, Tai Paddles, Loaded Sports Drinks, Ocean Club HQ Maninoa and Vaitele Spring Water.