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Le Vasa Outrigger Canoe Club represents American Samoa with pride!

Utulei, American Samoa – June 27, 2016 – The 2016 Savai’i Crossing has come and gone and Le Vasa Outrigger Canoe Club represented Amerika Samoa well! The 2016 Savai’i Crossing, a 27-mile change over race held in neighboring Samoa, was held this past Saturday.

Despite a forecast that called for swells up to 9 feet and winds up to 25 mph, conditions were ideal. “We were blessed with great conditions and I’m proud to report our 2 teams did such a great job!” say head coach Paula Stevenson-McDonald. “There were a few times when the swells got pretty big and the currents became pretty challenging, but for the most part the conditions were as good as we could have hoped for.” said Stevenson-McDonald. “We want to thank the Pualele Outrigger Canoe Club for hosting us and for organizing the event. It is always a huge challenge organizing these races and so again, a big fa’afetai tele lava to them.”

Team Alotasi Pualele from Samoa took 1st place in the open mixed division, finishing the Crossing with a time of 4 hours, 16 minutes. Coming in 2nd was Le Vasa Outrigger Canoe Club’s open mixed (co-ed) novice team with a time of 4 hours, 47 minutes. Le Vasa’s all woman open crew was the only entrant in their division and finished with a strong performance finishing the Crossing in 4 hours, 38 minutes, second across the finish line.

“We are very proud that our club was able to send 2 crews.” says Le Vasa assistant coach Michael McDonald. “Our veteran women’s crew was solid. They showed up and performed well. The crew was down 3 paddlers during the race, which meant those who remained had to put in more time in the canoe. That took a lot of determination and resolve. A very gritty performance. “ said McDonald. “We are also especially proud of our novice crew. They showed a tremendous amount of heart and determination. This was not only their first Savai’i Crossing but their first long race and to take on the Crossing and come out strong, it was very impressive.” said McDonald. Aunu’u Chen, a member of the LVOCC open mixed crew said this of the Crossing; “For myself and most of the crew, this was our first long distance race, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. But it was awesome to see the crew work hard and us developing as paddlers to compete at the next level. Although we may have came up short, I still feel we accomplished a lot by coming together as a team till the end.”

The novice co-ed LVOCC team members are: Ambrose Fa’atoafe, Anthony Fuga, Aunu’u Chen, Burg Salanoa, Siufaga Kava, Will Kuresa, Caroline Tuiolosega, Carrie Lee Magalei, Christa Satele, Kim McGuire, and Vera Talamoa.

The all-women LVOCC (also know as Team Le Malu o le Vasa) team members are: Ipo Hemaloto, Julie Falanai, Luaao Wasko, Marian McGuire, Paula Stevenson-McDonald, Sandra Lei Ho-Ching, Vanessa McKenzie. The all-women crew was also joined by two paddlers who travelled from California and one from Hawaii: Kelley Townsend, Robin Sasaki, and Kim Hayashi.

The Savaii Crossing is an annual race hosted by Pualele Outrigger Canoe Club. It is a 27-mile change-over paddling race that begins at Mulifanua on the island of Upolu, heading across the Apolima Straight and turning at Salelologa wharf on the island Savai'i and heading back to Mulifanua.

“Thank you again to our sponsors Blue Sky, SoPac Distributors/Budweiser, Transit Motel and all those who supported this effort. We could not have done it without your support. The Le Vasa OCC will be resuming our training schedule soon. We are looking for new paddlers and we are especially interested in recruiting young paddlers, ages 12 – 19.” says Stevenson-McDonald. For more information on how to join Le Vasa Outrigger Canoe Club, stop by South Pacific Watersports & Fitness in Utulei or call 633-3050.

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