A young Samoan woman made sailing history yesterday.
Fealofani Bruun, the Skipper of the Gaualofa, who hails from the village of Lefagaoali’i Savai’i achieved the rank of a Yacht-master Captain.
At Taumeasina yesterday, Ms. Bruun was congratulated by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russel and the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, who are in Samoa.
The achievement was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Embassy to the Samoa Voyaging Society.
The $28,000 enabled the voyaging society to undertake certification training and testing for a local captain, making her the first Samoan to achieve the feat.
The grant also allowed for sailing and training of local crewmembers.
Ms. Bruun is humbled by her success.
“It has been a great thrill and I recommend for everybody in Samoa to do it,” she said about sailing.
As for the challenges of becoming a Yacht Master captain, she said: “One of the most challenging parts was time."
“I had to put a lot of time aside for this training. I couldn’t do more for the Gaualofa while I was getting this and as you can see she needs a lot of work and a lot of hands.”
Ms. Bruun started her training in 2012.
“I had to help Gaualofa to do maintenance and do another voyage and then get everything completed during particular times,” she said.
“This particular course doesn’t take one full month it takes a lot of months to get it done and takes a lot of years of experience.”
Asked what this means for Samoa, she said Gaualofa no longer needs a non-Samoan captain.
“We usually do that within the voyaging society that we have, so we contract either somebody from within the voyaging society who is not Samoan to come captain Samoan canoe.”
But how did she get started?
She said she became interested six years ago when she saw the mother canoe, Teau-o-Tonga.
“I have been sailing since I was five but six years ago when I first saw one of the mother canoe Teau-o-Tonga, she just grabbed me straight away and that is how it all started,” she said.
As for her being a woman, she believes there is nothing women cannot do.
“There are no barriers, full speed no breaks,” she said.
“I’m happy that it’s done. I have so much gratitude for everyone who supported me along the way. Thank you.”