Late start but a champ's finish for fautasi winners
The winners of this year's 60th Independence anniversary fautasi regatta, Tolotolo o le Tamauli held their heads high and put God at helm despite their nerve-wrecking experience at the start of the race.
Captain, Pauli Ivan in an interview with the Samoa Observer described the race as a historic one for his rowers and himself and one for the books after they were taken by surprise as the race had already started and they did not hear the starting gun.
"We were the last ones to get to the starting point and we were surprised when we saw that the other fautasi has already started rowing. Little did we know the race had started," he said.
"I looked around and realised there was no other option but to start rowing as well but we didn't here any guns at the start of the race.
"Maybe a fautasi had already started before the gun went off plus the whistles and everything hence why we couldn't hear it."
He asked if this experienced had worried them, Pauli said not one tad as they had hope and put their faith in God and knew the rowers' capability of claiming victory at the race.
Tolotolo o le Tamauli had been on the third spot throughout most of the race until the last half an hour when they went into overdrive and to the first spot beating Telefoni o le Vainuu and the Segavao.
Segavao Don Bosco claimed the second spot of the race, Telefoni o le Vainuu at third, Little Rina at fourth place and Marist at fifth place.
According to the Tolotolo o le Tamauli captain, he highlighted that most of the crews' game plans were to compete for the first spot at the start but that wasn't the case for his crew.
"That's for most for most of the crews and for our team, although we may have been late starters, we always have a plan B and we won't reveal our secret in case the other teams will know but we tried our best to brush away our fears and strive for victory," he said.
Tolotolo o le Tamauli had started their preparations five weeks before the race and for four weeks, the captain and its' steering crew trained most of the rowers how to paddle as they were all new.
Pauli said they resorted to recruiting new and younger rowers as most of the old rowers of the crew had moved abroad for seasonal employment while others had family commitments.
He also thanks all of their supporters and sponsors for their unwavering support which gave them courage to fight for victory towards the end.
Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Matamua Vasati Pulufana was amongst the supporters who waited with pride at the docking spot after the game at Mulinuu as well as the Associate Minister of Police, Fepulea'i Faasavalu Su'a.
It was a tremendous experience not just for the rowers and the captains but also for the supporters who brought back the traditional fautasi fever with people crowding all ends of the seawalls in Apia especially at the finishing line.
The traditional sport has made a comeback after years of hiatus after measles epidemic in 2019 and then COVID-19 pandemic.
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