Stunning Apia weather, calm blue waters and the wonderful backdrop of the Apia waterfront provided just the right environment for a great day of racing in the 2017 Vailima Alopaopao International Paddling Festival yesterday.
The competition kicked into action after a beautiful cultural ceremony to open the Festival, which included the ava being served from a group on a floating platform.
The opening ceremony took place at the Apia Beach Front.
It started with a prayer by Reverend Nuuausala Siaosi of the Apia Protestant Church followed by welcoming remarks from Alo Paopao Festival Committee Trust Patron, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale.
The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, opened the competition.
“I am proud to see that the Committee has maintained this critical part of our culture, promoting our tourism and acknowledging our Va’a Samoa’s proud history,” he said.
The Minister added that the Festival is not just about promoting Samoa as a tourism destination but it is also an opportunity to let the world know we have the facilities to host international events.
The Festival this year features 10 international teams with paddlers from Tahiti, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia and seven local teams.
Minister Loau welcomed all the participants.
“On behalf of the Samoan government, I would like to welcome all the participants, paddlers and supporters to the only pearl of the Pacific (Samoa),” he said. “May you go back and bring your relatives for holiday in this paradise.”
The annual Vailima Alo Paopao Festival is Samoa’s premier international paddling event - a week-long event featuring a series of competitive international level paddling regattas.
The first Alo Paopao Festival took place in 2012.
Yesterday saw the sprint competition. The official results were not available at press time.