sailing

Samoan sailor says cost of participation a barrier for Pasifika

Eroni Leilua, from Vaivasa-Uta in Upolu, will become the first sailor to represent Samoa at the Summer Games after qualifying at the world championships in Melbourne earlier this month, but he hopes he is not the last.

He said it was disappointing to think the potential of Pacific sailors was being restricted by financial obstacles.

"Money is difficult as it is but to get into a sport like sailing, it's pretty tough," he said.

"It's definitely been the biggest obstacle [for me] and especially being from a Pacific Island background."

Leilua aims to be the first Samoan sailor at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

One of the participants is Samoan sailor, Eroni Leilua.

He said competing in the qualifiers means a lot and now all his focus is on Tokyo 2020.

“It was a challenge and it’s pretty expensive. I was supported really well by my work and also by family friends. We ran fundraisers here and there just to cover the cost. It was difficult but also got some funding from Samoa Sailing Association and the Yacht Club, where I grew up sailing and that was special.”

Ripley returns after a decade to represent Samoa in sailing

The Laser Radial sailor will be competing in her second regional meeting.

“I am doing sailing, the laser radial for women, me and another lady representing Samoa. And I’ve been sailing since I was 8. Had a big gap in between with abit of travel, University, Work and now back again at work. So I had a ten year gap. Now I’m back into representing Samoa. I did represent in 2007 Games. So this will be my second Pacific Games.”

Ripley is expecting a tough competition this year and believes the team is well prepared for the games.

Moanas in real life: Samoan man teaches his daughters traditional Pacific voyaging skills

Nafanua, Leilani and Emma are 14, 12 and 10-years-old respectively, and their dad Xavier Lui is teaching them the traditional skills of Pacific sea voyaging.

Emma says she likes seeing turtles, riding the bow of the va'a ("boat" in Samoan), and feeling connected to her culture.

"It uncovers the history and you can make your own history while you sail, go on that big boat and make your own," she says, gesturing to the Samoan Voyaging Society's double-hulled canoe, the Gaualofa.