New international paddling race

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CULTURE ON SHOW: The ava ceremony during a previous Alo Paopao event.

CULTURE ON SHOW: The ava ceremony during a previous Alo Paopao event.

The Alo Paopao Festival Trust, who are behind the Alo Paopao International Paddling Festival, which has been running since 2012, have announced a new international race for 18th March 2017!  

They have also confirmed dates for the Alo Paopao International Paddling Festival 2017.  

The Festival, now in its sixth year, will start on Friday 25th August and run until Wednesday 30th August.  This will be followed by the Le Aito V1 International Paddling regatta on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September 2017.   

The Sheraton to Sheraton 30km Va’a Regatta in March, will see six-person canoes race from Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Apia Harbour to Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Resort at Mulifanua. 

Alo Paopao Festival Trust Chairman, Ulugia Jay Ah Fook-Schuster, said these events have the potential to raise Samoa’s profile as a sports tourism destination. 

 “There are more than 100 outrigger canoeing clubs in the Pacific and beyond,” he said, “paddling is a sport that celebrates our Pacific Island cultures but also has a really wide appeal to anyone who just likes being active and outdoors.”  

Last August more than 200 local and New Zealand paddlers competed in the Fifth Alo Paopao Festival, which was followed by the inaugural Le Aito V1 Regatta.

Le Aito was launched in conjunction with Tahiti’s Te Aito, which attracts almost 1,000 competitors each year and is one of the world’s most prestigious races for one-person, rudderless va’as (V1s). 

Samoa’s inaugural Le Aito 20km men’s race was won by NZ’s number two paddler, Shannon Moon, while Samoan-Maori junior champ Koho-Alofa Vitolio took out the 10km women’s title. 

The 2016 paddling event also included World Sprints Open Mens and Masters champions from New Zealand, Jeff Williams, Mark Malakai-Williams and Micheal Sala, who are all proud Samoans.  All these paddlers participated in the recent Waka Ama New Zealand National Sprints, and they all placed in the first or second in the V6 & V1 races.  

Ulugia said having talented international paddlers in Samoa not only raised the profile of our country as a sports tourism destination, it was also an inspiration for local paddlers.

“Paddling has really only taken off as a sport in Samoa in the last 20 years, but there’s so much potential.”

 “It’s a great way to keep fit and healthy and ward off obesity, you keep in touch with our culture and with the ocean, and you develop great friendships and leadership experience within clubs.” 

RACE TIME: Paddling is a great way to get fit.
RACE TIME: Paddling is a great way to get fit.

Ulugia said in addition to New Zealand, teams and V1 paddlers from Australia, Hawaii, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea had expressed interest in Alo Paopao and Le Aito, which will be held this year from 25-30 August and 2-3 September respectively. “The Sheraton to Sheraton Regatta on 18 March will be a smaller affair, but we’ve got great support and some excellent accommodation deals from our high-profile sponsor, and we’re hoping some international paddlers will make the trip and join in on the fun,” Ulugia said. “The 30km open-ocean course will be a great challenge – especially for our local teams who are training for the Va’a World Championships.”

Major sponsor for the inaugural Sheraton to Sheraton Regatta in March are of course, Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows and Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Resort, as well as Vailima.  

This event is open to the public to come and enjoy the races, which will end at Sheraton Aggie Grey’s resort on Saturday 18th March with a Buffet lunch and prizegiving.  

The Saturday race will be followed by a beach party, BBQ and social V1 races at Sheraton Mulifanua on Sunday 19 March.  

Sheraton is offering a special local package for local paddlers, families and supporters participating in this event, for ST$335.00 per night including tax, breakfast & WIFI for minimum 2 nights stay during this event.  As well as a special package for international paddlers.  For bookings please call them on 22880 and quote SAVLOC.  

Alo Paopao paddling events are made possible by generous support from the local business community.  Sponsors for the Vailima Alo Paopao 2016/2017 season are Vailima, SIFA, Pacific Forum Line, Sheraton, Siva Afi, Fausaga Va’a, M & J Ah Fook, Bluesky & National Bank of Samoa.

Confirmed sponsors for the 2017 Alo Paopao Festival are Fiji Airways and Vailima.  Fiji Airways are offering special flight deals for all overseas paddlers who will be participating in this event.  Their advantage is they have flights via Nadi from New Zealand, Australia and other Pacific Islands, as well as direct route from Honolulu, so paddlers from all over the Pacific have access to Samoa.  Helloworld Travel in New Zealand and Tri Travel in Australia have also come on board, offering special packages for international teams and individual paddlers.  

As part of the 2016/ 2017 local season regattas, Alo Paopao Festival Trust and Nafanua paddling club will also be hosting two events in February.  A Beach Party and Social Paddling event next Saturday 18th February at the new Ocean Club Bar, Fiafia Fales, Maninoa Beach in Siumu.  

Followed by the Vailima V6 Regatta for club and business house teams on Saturday 25th February at Nafanua Club headquarters at Matautu-Tai (next to Paddles restaurant).  

If you are interested in trying out paddling, you are welcome to join Social Paddling with Nafanua club, every Friday 5.30pm at Matautu-Tai.  For more information contact Ulugia Jay Schuster on 7774434 or email Emeline Ioane, Nafanua Club Secretary, on ioane26emeline@gmail.com.

For more information or to register for the Alo Paopao paddling regattas, visit www.alopaopao.net or email alopaopao@gmail.com. From the website you can also sign up to the mailing list and visit Alo Paopao and Le Aito on Facebook, where you can see which of your friends are interested in the Facebook events.  

For more information on sponsorship of the 2017 Alo Paopao event, businesses and organisations can contact Afamasaga Jackie Curry on 7667444.  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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