'The Sailing Association is working very hard to provide the team with every opportunity possible to enhance their skills in the lead up to the Games,' SASS said. 'Some of our athletes are quite young so we believe the experience of competing in New Zealand will benefit the team considerably.'
Competing in the Laser are Shannon HUMRICH, Patisela FAIUMU and Blake MILROY. MILROY is a veteran of the ISAF Youth World Championship, having competed in the 2003 and 2004 Championships, in Portugal and Poland respectively, on the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme. Samoa is represented in the Laser Radial by Luana MILROY and Raema VON REICHE.
Fleet Captain and Laser Team Coach, VON REICHE, said while the sailors had been through the full Optimist Class course, competing for a minimum of five years in that category, only some had sailed Lasers internationally.
'This is why it is important to take them away for international exposure. They need to see what happens in a fleet of more than 40 Lasers on a start line,' VON REICHE said.
'I am hoping this experience will boost their enthusiasm and give them a sound basis to commence their intense training from March to August,' she said.
Financial constraints had initially prevented some athletes from nominating for the trip but funding was secured in order to alleviate the financial cost to the athlete's families.
SASS said in addition to the SAT $8000 funding from the SSA, generous support had been received from sponsors.
'We are very grateful to our sponsors who continue to support our sport,' she said. 'It does ease the burden somewhat for the parents who are making a big sacrifice here to get the team some much needed experience.'
The team will return from New Zealand on 24 February.
From 25 August-8 September, Samoa will host the 2007 South Pacific Games with racing to take place in the Laser, Laser Radial and Hobie 16 events.