A Samoan boat-building specialist has been hailed one of the unsung heroes behind Emirates Team New Zealand's winning of the America's Cup.
Neemia Sila is the Composites Team Leader at Jackson Electrical Industries in Onehunga.
Neemia Sila and Jim Jackson. Photo/ Supplied.
The 45-year-old led the team in making the winning yacht's wing spars, rudders, foils and provided some of the tools needed in the process.
Sila is from the village of Fasito'otai in Samoa and migrated to New Zealand 17 years ago for a better life.
Managing Director of Jackson Electrical Industries, Jim Jackson, says Team New Zealand's leader Grant Dalton, referred to Sila as one of the unsung heroes of the America's Cup project.
Jackson says the work was incredibly demanding.
"We started a year late on the project," he says. "In the latter part we worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Sila says the winning yacht had developed tiny cracks in the retractable vertical keels or dagger boards, during the races in Bermuda, but there was no time for a new one.
"Shipping off the stuff from here to there is around two weeks and it would've taken a while because we would have had to start from scratch," he says. "Thank God what they already had turned out alright."
The father-of-four says he wants to inspire other Pacific Islanders to follow their dreams.
"Keep pressing on and make sure you enjoy what you're doing," he says.
Jackson says they've been involved with Team New Zealand for 15 years and says his Pacific Island workers all made significant contributions to the project.
The team at Jackson Electrical Industries. Photo/ Supplied.