SINGAPORE - It looked as if the ship had sailed for Loh Jia Yi after his first regatta.
He took up sailing in Primary 3 at St Hilda's Primary School after first trying his hand at badminton, and finished his first competition behind every one of his more-experienced peers.
While it wasn't exactly an explosive start to his career in the Optimist class, Jia Yi stuck at it and, after five whirlwind years, he climbed all the way to the top.
Today, the Raffles Institution student is the reigning Optimist world champion, the Republic's first boy after Kimberly Lim and Yukie Yokoyama in the past three years.
"I never imagined I'd be where I am now," Jia Yi told The New Paper, after his exploits at the Optimist World Championships in Lake Garda, Italy in July.
"I wasn't really sure what competitive sailing was like and in my first few, I finished last and third last in the entire fleet. "Obviously, after that, things went uphill.
"After finishing all my regattas last month, I can lie on my bed and see how everything has fit into place over the past few years."
Even though his sailing adventures have taken him to five grand locations around the world, Jia Yi, 15, still manages to find a balance between his studies and sports.