One of the most followed events during the Independence Celebration could be cancelled due to the lack of interest from local crews.
This became very apparent during a meeting held by the 54th Independence Fautasi Race Committee on Tuesday where only three representatives of the fautasi crews attended.
Skippers from Telefoni ole Vainu’u from Manono, Little Rina and Don Bosco 200 were the only ones who indicated their interest.
The winner of last year’s fautasi race, Le Tolotolo o Tama Uli from Salelologa was absent.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Skipper Pauli Ivan Williams said he was unaware about the meeting.
Asked if the crew had any interest to participate in this year’s event, Pauli said it depends on the village.
“I’m going to Savai’i in the weekend and I would have to ask the village and crew about their intention. But like I said, I was not aware about the meeting. I missed the announcements. There is still time, we’ve got another five weeks to go.”
Committee member and Assistant Police Commissioner, Fauono Talalelei Tapu said their committee would submit their report and recommendation to the main committee.
“If this is how it will be (only three participants) we will pass on our report to the main committee to see if it’s worth continuing with the race,” said Fauono.
“We don’t have the authority to cancel the race but we will report to them the situation that we are in. Because it’s not going to be a nice and competitive race if we only have just three fautasi…we need at least six or so.”
According to Fauono the lack of interest could have something to do with preparations or that they do not have fautasi that are in good condition to race.
He denied that teams pulled out because of the prizes.
Fauono assured that the top prize money is a lot, ranging from $30,000 to $10,000 – not including consolation prizes.
Furthermore, he explained that an invitation has already been sent out to Leone to participate in the race and they have not responded.
The Assistant Commissioner indicated that Little Rina has informed them that they have a crew that can row three fautasi but do not have the boats.
“We were told they only have one boat and need another two boats as they have the number of crew,” said Fauono.
“But that is a matter for them to deal with as the committee doesn’t deal with those preparations, that is on them to do. However they have indicated they would ask Father Ricky if they could use two of his fautasi stored at Sogi so we are yet to hear about that.”
There were five fautasi that competed in last year’s race.
Just last week in American Samoa, the territory cancelled its Flag day fautasi race.