The Fish & Co Youth Sailing Championships have seen changes in the last two years, from the adoption of an Olympic-style racing format to an increase of the size of the competition.
This year, the Under-19 regatta has incorporated Sailability - the national sailing programme for the disabled - with the aim of eventually incorporating disabled classes into the meet.
At the competition's press conference at the National Sailing Centre yesterday, SingaporeSailing chief executive officer Tan Wearn Haw said: "As part of our SG50 celebrations, we were looking at how we could do more this year... disability sailing is a very important part of the sport and we want to slowly build pathways in this area."
The seven-week Sailability programme started last month at the Changi Sailing Club with around 20 children with disabilities, under the mentorship of national sailors such as Elisa Yukie Yokoyama, as well as the assistance from volunteers from Fish & Co staff.
The participants learnt how to sail in the introductory course, and are encouraged to move on to the intermediate phase of the programme.
Asian Para Games gold medallist Jovin Tan lauded the food and beverage company's involvement in Sailability, which is into its 15th year, and hopes for more to come for disability sailing.
He said: "This is a wonderful initiative for budding talents and to groom Singapore's future Paralympic sailors.
"In the long run, I hope to see the programme grow in terms of funding, which will help in areas such as purchase of equipment and transportation."
The youth championships, which take place at the National Sailing Centre from March 18 to 21, will feature more than 400 sailors from 11 countries, including Australia and Thailand.
For local sailors, the regatta will serve as a South-east Asia Games qualifier for classes such as both Optimist boys and girls, and 420, as well as the Isaf Youth World Sailing Championships in Langkawi in December.
Title sponsor Fish & Co, which came on board in 2013 on a two-year deal, has signed on for another two years, with the amount pumped into the event nearing $500,000 over the four editions.
Fish & Co managing director Hoo Hoe Keat said: "The past two years (being involved in the regatta) have been very positive for us.
"It is a key platform for our sailors to get ranking points, and to qualify for other regattas, as well as to gain more international exposure.
"We feel that it is very worthwhile for us to carry on (with this sponsorship)."
This article was first published on February 27, 2015.
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