A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Salesian Youth win historic Fautasi Race

The win by many lengths raised eyebrows at the celebrations not only because these were youngsters between 16 -20 up against men, but were trained and skippered by a charismatic woman tautai (navigator). Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel. The boat was Segavau III and built locally at Si’usega.

One Beat - Segavao Don Bosco longboat crew celebrate

One Beat - Segavao Don Bosco longboat crew celebrate

The  Don Bosco Technical Centre is a flagship school for the Salesian Order in Samoa with places in the trade school eagerly sought after. The Centre actively promotes the spiritual and personal development of students, and emphasises participation in cultural and performing arts to enhance students’ self-image and self-esteem.

The opportunity for excellence in fuatasi racing came in 2004 through contact with the French Honorary Consul who happened to be Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel who was custodian of Segavao II the church longboat of Si’usega parish. She agreed to train the young men in the arts of fautasi racing. Training began and results were attained slowly. In June 2005, their maiden race, they placed 3rd, September 2005 2nd, and in April 2006 (Flag day American Samoa,) they placed 1st. They have won many races since, and never placed below 2nd since their first year in the sport.Every win made history for the students with their woman tautai (Navigator). and were in spite of the cutting edge technology and materials used by their opponents.

The latest version Segavao III was like the earlier ones a project of the parish, specially designed by Zita Martel for the 50th Anniversary of Independence. The design was based on the traditional outrigger paopao canoe. An architect from the parish drew up the plans, and another parishioner carpenter did the building. Zita Martel has now captained all three Segavao fautasi.

Zita Martel with Segavao Don Bosco rower Manusamoa

Zita Martel with Segavao Don Bosco rower Manusamoa

For twelve years she has been the only woman in the sport of fautasi racing. It is a fiercely contested sport, focussing on two big races per year.

The crew trains for three months before a race and in the last month goes into training camp. It is a big commitment of time and energy, but the rewards have been been great. There are cash prizes for the first three places, and these have been a great help to the Technical Centre.

But the successes have done wonders for the morale of the Technical School. Zita Martel says that “it has raised Don Bosco Technical Centre to another level”. Because these students are not academic some people have been tempted to look down on them - in fact the previous Principal of the Technical Centre Fr Mosese said it was hard to get sponsorship and support for the Centre. All that has changed now. Business firms could well be lining up  to help the Technical Centre produce the skilled tradesmen that the country needs so much.    

Information and photos supplied to the Editor by Zita Martel, and from the website

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