The Vailima Alo Paopao International Paddling Regatta & Festival 2016 started on Friday 26th August with team registration & briefing and officially opened on Saturday morning.
The Festival was officially opened by Hon. Minister of Communications & Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai.
He spoke about the importance of holding International events, such as Alo Paopao in Samoa, to allow more locals to compete against the world’s best paddlers and attracting more tourists and visitors to Samoa.
The Alo Paopao Festival Patron, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, acknowledged the support of the business community to help make this event possible and challenged the government to find ways to support these types of events.
Major sponsors for these events are Vailima, Sheraton, PFL, Siva Afi, M & J Ah Fook and Fausaga Va’a. Co-sponsors are Bluesky and National Bank of Samoa.
The Nafanua Paddling club held a beautiful traditional paddling ceremony on the water, with the assistance of the Gaualofa traditional sailing boat and Siva Afi dancers. This was followed by an Ava Ceremony to welcome dignitaries and overseas paddling teams.
This year’s festival featured some of the top Samoan world champion paddlers from the New Zealand Open Mens and Masters Mens teams, who recently competed in the World Sprints held in Australia earlier this year. This New Zealand team is sponsored by Vailima and Sheraton.
There are also Masters teams and Junior teams here from New Zealand, as well as an Open Women’s team here from Pagopago.
Over 100 local and international paddlers and 10 business house teams competed in the 250 meter & 500 meter Sprint regatta races on Saturday including junior teams, business house teams and Open Mens and Women’s teams.
On Sunday, the festival organisers held a Beach and Cultural Day at Maninoa Beach, Siumu which included an umu demonstration, traditional games and to’onai lunch for overseas and local paddlers. This was followed by V1 & OC1 races for Junior boys, Masters Men & Women and Open Men & Women.
Results from Saturday sprints, show the Vailima Sheraton team from New Zealand has dominated the Open Mens and Open Mix events, followed by strong competition from Laumei & Nafanua paddling clubs.
The Junior races were dominated by Manurewa High, followed by Nafanua and Laumei Clubs. The Open Women’s competition had Manurewa High, Laumei, Nafanua, Pasifika from New Zealand and the ladies team from Pago leading the 250m & 500m competitions.
The final two days of the Alo Paopao Festival will be 7km, 15 km & 20km long distance races in Apia Harbour 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.
On Saturday 3rd September the Alo Paopao Festival Committee will also be hosting the Sheraton Te Aito V1 Competition, which starts from in front of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows, Vaisigano.
This is the first time an International V1, single man paddling competition will be held in Samoa and there will be over 50 local and international paddlers competing in this race. The Tahitian Te Aito competition attracts over 900 of the world’s top V1 paddlers every year.