Local sailor proud to carry flag for Samoa again

Samoa’s lone local representative at the Sir Peter Blake Regatta is excited to sail for her country again.

Vaimo’oi’a Ripley, 28, flew to Auckland, New Zealand yesterday for the regatta, which will be held at Torbay Sailing Club on Saturday and Sunday.

She last competed for Samoa at the 2007 Pacific Games, having started sailing when she was eight.

“My auntie is Samoa Sailing Association president Raema von Reiche, she lived behind us growing up,” Ripley said.

“We’d all pile into her car and go down to the yacht club every weekend.

“Soon after the Games I left for uni, and haven’t really sailed for the last 10 years.”

Ripley credits the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for reigniting her passion when she lived in Brisbane, Australia.

“Just before I moved home I was sailing with them, just getting back into it,” she said.

Ripley returned to Samoa to work for the Australian High Commission.

“I really want to do more sailing again, being here you’re right by the ocean,” she said.

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“I took it for granted growing up, so now wanna make the most of it.”

von Reiche contacted Ripley when she got home, and said they were looking for people for the Pacific Games.

“I realised that I really missed it,” Ripley said.

She finished 3rd overall at the recent Fealofani Cup between Samoa and American Samoa, in what was a return to racing.

“Everyone was like 15, 16, then there was a big age gap before me,” said Ripley.

She said she’s looking forward to the step up in competition for the Sir Peter Blake Regatta.

“With New Zealand being one of the best countries for sailing, I want to observe and soak up as much as possible.

“Really looking forward to seeing what they do having been out of the game for 10 years.

“I’m hoping doing races like this will help me be competent enough to compete next year in the Pacific Games.”

Auckland-based brother and sister duo Neroni and Bianca Leilua will also be representing Samoa at the regatta.

“We all started sailing together,” said Ripley.

“They’re really good, and kept competing after I was gone.”

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