The Vailima Alo Paopao Festival was officially opened yesterday morning starting with an Ava ceremony to welcome the overseas guests and competitors who will be competing this year.
The Minister of Communication, Information and Technology Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i was given the honour of delivering the keynote speech to officially open the festival.
“The annual Vailima Alo Paopao Festival is an international paddling festival and one of Samoa’s premiere sporting events,” he said.
“The first Alo Paopao festival took place in 2012 in Apia and this will be its fourth year’s running.
“The purpose of this paddling event is to celebrate Samoa’s rich culture of paddling and develop a profile of paddling as a sport and also allow more locals to compete against the world’s best paddlers without the cost of travelling overseas.
“Being an international festival, Alo Paopao attracts tourists and visitors to Samoa and the government of Samoa hopes to see this festival continue to grow over the years to come.
“Other festivals in the regions such as the Heiva Festival in Tahiti attract 3,000 paddlers for their annual event as well as the Cook Islands with 2,000 paddlers and spectators.”
“They attend every year injecting millions of dollars in these Pacific Island’s economies.”
He went on to say that the festival will also be featuring a series of competitive business house regattas and cultural activities.
“This year’s festival will feature some of the top Samoan World Champions from the Open Men’s and Masters Men’s team who recently competed in the World Sprints Health in Australia early this year,” he said.
“Over hundred locals and international paddlers have registered to compete in club races as well as businesses that have registered teams to compete in the Business House competition.
“The festival also signifies the start of the new local paddling season which runs for a full year starting and ending with the Alo Paopao Festival 2017.
“Finally the Alo Paopao Festival Committee will also be hosting the Sheraton Te Aito V1 Competition and corporate lunch makes that 3rd of September at Apia Harbour.”
According to release sent by the Alo Paopao committee this year’s event will include a Sprint competition which include junior teams and local business house teams.
This will be followed by a Beach/ Cultural Day, umu demonstration, traditional games, to’onai lunch and more sprint races held at Maninoa Beach, Siumu today.
The 15km & 18km Marathons will be held on Tuesday 30th & Wednesday 31st August. Finally, the festival will wrap up with a Cultural Show and Closing Ceremony on Wednesday evening.
The major event sponsors are Vailima, Sheraton, PFL, Siva Afi, M & J Ah Fook and Fasaga Va’a. Co-sponsors are Bluesky, National Bank of Samoa and Oceania Gas.