Only four long boats have been confirmed to compete in Samoa’s 60th Independence Race including Toamua who registered before entries closed last Friday.
Toamua will join the three entries previously announced – Don Bosco, Segavao and Tolotolo Tamauli from the Big Island of Savaii.
The low numbers has been attributed by the Chairman of the Fautasi Race Committee to the wear and tear that struck many of the village-owned long boats over the years, especially in recent lockdown years when the fautasi have remained unused.
“We believe that is one of the main reasons for the low entries,” said Auapaau.
The Chairman said this is one of the reasons behind the Committee lifting the incentive fund offered to villages to help prepare for the race.
“That used to be $2,000 tala, however, given the status of many of the boats and the cost of renovations needed to prepare, we endorsed an amount of $10,000 tala.
For this year’s race, Don Bosco will once again be captained by Samoa’s warrior queen sensation, Vaimasenuu Zita Sefo Martel, who captained Don Bosco to an historical win 10 years ago for Samoa’s 50th Independence race.
For new entrants Toamua, they have not yet revealed the name of their fautasi, although many followers will remember the Aviivii, Little Rina and La o Samoa all being former fautasis of Toamua.
Neighbours from American Samoa and Tonga are unable to compete in Samoa’s fautasi race because the sport in Samoa still uses the traditional wooden oars, while the others are now using spoon oars made out of fibre glass.