Melbourne win buoys Cheng

Melbourne win buoys Cheng
Above: Audrey Yong, who finished second in the women's windsurfing RS:X competition, flanked by her coach Sakda Sakulfaeng at the Sailing World Cup in Melbourne. Yong, who wants to strengthen her technique in strong winds, said: "I chose this race because it's got the conditions to help me to improve on a lot of my weaknesses." Left: Colin Cheng topped the 35-boat fleet in three races and finished 11 points ahead of his closest rival, Thomas Saunders of New Zealand.
PHOTO: Jeremiah Ye

Colin Cheng may have shone in Melbourne yesterday but the Singapore sailor had Rio firmly at the back of his mind.

He won the Laser Standard class at the Sailing World Cup Melbourne, the first leg of the six-stop series, with compatriot Audrey Yong finishing second in the women's windsurfing RS:X competition.

Both sailors, however, admitted that their achievements are secondary to their ultimate goal of reaching the Rio Olympics next year.

"It's my first World Cup victory so obviously it's a big achievement for me. To come out with a win - it feels good," said Cheng, 26, who had earlier booked Singapore its first slot in the sport at the 2016 Rio Games.

"But we are working towards the Olympics, and these races are for the sake of preparing me for it.

"(The win) gives me a lot of confidence and it puts me in pretty good stead. If it comes close, I hope it'll give me a one-up (on others)."

Cheng topped the 35-boat fleet in three of the eight races and held a comfortable 15-point lead over his closest competitor, Thomas Saunders of New Zealand, going into the final medal race yesterday.

The Singaporean eventually finished with a net 25 points, 11 ahead of Saunders.

Cheng added: "We had a variety of wind conditions. It took me a while to find my groove, get rid of some cobwebs and switch from training to racing mood."

Racing under different wind conditions was a key objective for windsurfer Yong, who said: "I chose this race because it's got the conditions to help me to improve on a lot of my weaknesses. At the SEA Games, we had some strong winds, and I didn't do very well then.

"So I came here with a very specific goal, which is to work on sailing in stronger winds.

"We don't get a lot of medium and strong winds in Singapore, and even if there are, it will be raining because it's the monsoon period."

The 20-year-old finished second in the six-boat windsurfing class, 15 points behind winner Joanna Sterling of Australia.

Yong, the 2010 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist and recent SEA Games gold medallist - she delivered Singapore's first windsurfing gold since 1989 - hopes to grab an Olympic berth in March's Asian Championships in Abu Dhabi.

The Republic has already clinched Olympic spots in the single-handed Laser Standard and Laser Radial, the double-handed women's 470, the mixed multi-hull Nacra 17 and the 49erFX skiff.

Like Cheng, who has put his undergraduate studies on hold to train full time, Yong also deferred her internship at Marina Bay Sands.

She said: "This is a small price to pay for my sport; I can achieve much more when I go full time."

Both sailors will take part in this week's Sail Sydney regatta.

This article was first published on December 14, 2015.
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