He bagged two awards at the Singapore Sailing Federation's (SSF) annual awards dinner at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club last night, but newly-crowned Sailor of the Year Loh Jia Yi knows he has a big year ahead of him.
After a successful 2013 that saw him become Singapore's first boy Optimist world champion, the 16-year-old is in his fourth month sailing the double-handed 420 dinghy with 2012 TNP School Sports Star boys' winner Jonathan Yeo.
They are campaigning for a spot at September's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Jia Yi - who also picked up the Team of the Year gong with Optimist world team champion partners Edward Tan, Koh Yi Kun, Bertha Han and Fathin Rasyiqin Mohd Firdaus - says the awards are a confidence booster in an important year in his budding career.
The Raffles Institution Secondary Four student said: "It feels encouraging for the coming year, especially for big events like the Asian Games and (Isaf) Worlds.
"This is one of the biggest years I will have as there are a lot of things to learn and prepare, not forgetting school.
"I've been sailing the 420 for four months and I guess I'm picking it up quite fast because my partner is very experienced and I'm learning a lot from him."
Jia Yi and Jonathan's partnership is already showing signs of promise, as they finished second at the Fish and Co National Youth Sailing Championships two weeks ago.
SSF high performance manager Terence Koh believes Jia Yi has what it takes to cope with the demands of adapting to his new class.
The former national sailor said: "Jia Yi has worked very hard in the previous year and he is working very hard this year in transition to the 420, and the results are showing in his first few regattas.
"We don't want to put so much pressure on our sailors, especially those who are very young, but he can have a very bright future.
"The key is to keep your head down and work hard and, knowing Jia Yi, he will do it and get the results in the future."
ROLL OF HONOUR
l Sailor of the Year: Loh Jia Yi
l Rookie of the Year: Muhammad Daniel Kei M Yazid
l Most Improved Sailor of the Year: Marsha Sahrin
l Club of the Year: Raffles Marina
l Coach of the Year: Fernando Alegre
l Club Coach of the Year: Kevin Quek
l Team of the Year: 2013 World Optimist Championships Team (Loh Jia Yi, Edward Tan, Koh Yi Kun, Bertha Han and Fathin Rasyiqin Mohd Firdaus)
l Official of the Year: Selvam Mookken
l Volunteer of the Year: Daryl Chan
This article was published on April 6 in The New Paper.
Get The New Paper for more stories.