All the way from Moto’otua Leifi’ifi, Jordon Milroy represented Samoa at the Para World Sailing Championships in the United States recently where he was placed 35th out of 38.
It was the first time Samoa was represented at that championship, and is Jordon’s second international competition, after a trip to Meze in Italy for the Hansa 303 World Championships last year.
With the support of a dedicated coach, Chris Sharp in New Zealand, Milroy left for the championships in Sheboygan, Wisconsin at the beginning of September to compete in the Men’s Hansa 303 race.
He was one of a record 98 sailors across 39 countries.
To judge competitors fairly against other disabilities, participants were ranked one to seven – those with the lowest function, to those with the least difficulties.
Milroy said, to his amazement, he was ranked one.
Milroy has cerebral palsy, which largely limits his walking. He overcomes this with leg supports, a walking frame or a wheelchair for longer distances.
His mother, Raema von Reiche is the Apia Yacht Club fleet captian and a volunteer coach.
She taught Jordon to sail at the Apia Yacht Club as a young boy, but needed a disability boat to progress to a competitive level.
With no such boats in Samoa, Milroy stopped sailing as a young boy, until he moved to New Zealand and joined Sailability New Zealand, a yacht club for disabled people.
There, he learned to sail the Hansa 303, a boat specially designed for anyone with any kind of disability.
Milroy wrote on his Facebook page (Jordon’s Climb for Awareness) that he had been training three days a week in the months before the championships.
“We’ve got to a point now where he is better than many with only a fraction of his disability,” said his coach Chris Sharp, in a video by World Sailing.
Out of the 38 teams competing, Jordon and his coach are the only pair where both disabled.
For years, Milroy has been a champion for disabled people across the Pacific.
In April 2012 he climbed the 1029 stairs of the Auckland Sky Tower and bungeed off the top, raising thousands of dollars in the process.
He then bought off-road quality wheelchairs for his disabled peers in Samoa, and today has climbed 25,000 steps, and raised $24,000 dollars for wheelchairs.
Mrs von Reiche said despite living in New Zealand since the end of his high-school days, son’s heart is in Samoa