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Pacific Games to host Sailing Oceania Championship and Parasailing division

July’s Pacific Games will see a bonus competition for the sailing athletes - the Oceania Championship for sailing will take place at the same time.

Samoa has eight sailors entered to the Pacific Games, including Jordan Milroy, who will be representing Samoa in the Paralympic sailing division of the Oceania Championship.

There are a 12 countries expected to participate in the competition in the Hobie Cat, Laser and Laser Radial events, in Mulifanua, and the men’s and women’s divisions will be split over the two weeks of the games to account for sailors attending a qualifying competition in Japan.

The Samoa Sailing Association President and coach, Raema von Reiche, said Fiji, Cook Islands and New Caledonia are strong competitors and will have Samoa on their toes.

And on Sunday, S.S.A. will welcome their new coach all the way from Poland. He will be dedicated full time towards preparing their athletes for the game, including making sure they get plenty of hours on the water at Mulifanua.

S.S.A. has not yet received any funding from the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C), and is for fundraising the coach’s salary and upkeep. 

Competition manager Paul Davies said S.S.A rejected their initial application for funding and suggested they reapply with a smaller request which S.S.A did in January, but they have still not heard back.

“A lot of the training money we applied for was to give our sailors overseas competition because there is no competition here. But we need to be putting them up against the best New Zealand has to offer,” Mr Davies said.

“It’s about getting that experience of having 12 boats on the starting line,” Ms von Reiche explained. 

“You need that feeling of getting pressured, of starting with a lot of boats. And sometimes there are 25, 30 boats, and all the ones who have done lots of competitions before will move you out of the way, there is a lot of jostling.”

Mr Davies said S.A.S.N.O.C has invited all the sports associations to apply for funding, so it was disappointing not to receive any, or even any explanations on the decision. There are also no sailors being trained in China along with many Samoan athletes training there currently.

“We know S.A.S.N.O.C gets funding from the International Olympic Committee. Maybe the demands on them are more than the funding allows, we don’t know.”

Ms von Reiche and Mr Davies say while they have missed the boat to get their team into a competition and test their competing abilities, having a full time coach who can work within the constraints of everyone’s full time jobs will make a difference.

In 2007, the team had a coach organised by the Government of China, which Mr Davies said may have made all the difference in Samoa’s performance.

“The difference between him, and the coach, is that I work and run a business so I don’t have the time other than weekends,” Ms von Reiche said. 

“The team also all work. It’s about trying to find a balance, we’ll have to do a lot of evening theory when they are not on the water,” she said.

The hopeful sailors of Team Samoa are Vaimo’oia Ripley, Bianca Leilua, Sumner Rasmussen, Ben Hansell, Maria Gay, Jordan Milroy and 11-year-old Ilai Craig.

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