The 2018 Sheraton 2 Sheraton 33km Regatta was launched at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Beach Resort, yesterday.
The event, sponsored by Vailima Breweries and Sheraton, is scheduled to take place this Saturday at 1pm beginning from the Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows in Apia and finishing at the Sheraton, Mulifanua.
Alo Paopao Chair Ulugia Jay Ah Fook said 10 teams including a team from Hawaii will be participating.
There are also five teams comprising women that will be participating.
Ulugia said the event focuses on reviving not only Samoan culture, but what links the Pacific - the ocean.
“This sport is linked to our culture. Other people sit down and they look at culture as something that seems to be how we speak. Culture too is how we live by the ocean, how we swim and paddle.
“Most of our children and elders can’t swim and most of them don’t know how to paddle. That part of our culture has seemed to be lost.
“This is how we are trying to promote it. It is reviving how we used to live and travel and also the lifestyle that we had.”
As traditional navigators, this event also looks at how our ancestors use the sea to travel from one place to another.
“Between Upolu and Savai'i is 20km and that is shorter. I think this distance from Sheraton to Sheraton of 33km is quite a big distance. I think also it is how we used to travel in the days.
“Paddling was something that used in defending our islands and for food but also play.”
Not only promoting our lost culture, it’s an event focusing on fun.
“That is what the race is all about, defending your title from last year, paddling, learning more about your culture, and also to end it with a lot of fun afterwards.”
He explained: “Paddling is so different for so many different ways. It is the only sports that relates to our culture and that is international. Paddling is very much unique in that way since it was brought in by our ancestors.
“Also this is the only sport that could bring about to 3,000 people here to Samoa. The only other event would be the South Pacific Games.
“If this sport will bring in world sprints, even the Alo paopao can grow up to 1,000 people. It can bring a number of visitors to our island.”
Looking forward, the Sheraton 2 Sheraton also looks at including junior programmes.
“With the junior programmes we are hoping to apply for some funds and if there are any available funds out there we will be happy to accept.
“It is going to be influential because it is going to be in the schools and it is something for the kids. Most of the kids are education wise and more alert if there are activities. Also when there is something new.
“Including the water, every kid loves to be in the ocean and giving them something to do in the ocean will definitely attract a lot of the kid's attention.”
Other sponsors for this event include Pacific Forum Line and Naydith Events Hirage.