SEA Games: Yin has the wind beneath her wings

SEA Games: Yin has the wind beneath her wings
Yin in her boat at the national sailing centre last month. At 22, she is already an Olympian. She is currently training three to four hours a day for six days a week in her bid to make the 2016 Rio Games.

THE first time Elizabeth Yin stepped into a sail-boat, she was almost paralysed by fear.

She was 11 and to this day, she still remembers the intimidating sight of the endless waters and being out alone at sea with nothing but her wits, a sail, and a rudder to guide her back to shore.

She said: "It was scary. I had to do everything on my own."

After all, sailing was not her birthright. She did not have parents to help her get acquainted with the wind and water, something which the likes of four-time Olympic champion sailor Ben Ainslie enjoyed.

The sport was just a co-curricular activity (CCA) offered by her primary school, St Hilda's, and Yin chose it simply because it "sounded more interesting than the rest".

But, blessed with what some consider a "natural feel" for the sails, together with a calm, measured demeanour and a knack for riding downwind, Yin's development took an upward trajectory.

Less than four years after first stepping into an Optimist boat, she clinched her first world title as the 2006 World Byte Female Champion.

Since then, she has gone on to win the 2008 Laser 4.7 World Female title and also became the 2009 Isaf Youth World Champion.

So how did she become Singapore's most decorated female sailor?

Said Singapore Sailing Federation high performance manager Chung Pei Ming: "Elizabeth is very natural in this sport that requires a lot of 'feel'. She just has that extra bit of 'feel'."

He explained that Yin has a knack for adapting to the different weather conditions, saying: "The weather changes often, and she knows the rhythm of the shifting wind conditions faster than others."

The 22-year-old Yin is a strong contender for the Laser Radial gold at the Myanmar Games from Dec 11 to 22.

The University of Sydney undergraduate spearheads a 20-member sailing team on the hunt for more success in the seaside town of Ngwe Saung, which faces the Bay of Bengal.

Singapore's sailors have always been counted upon to deliver at the biennial regional Games.

Since 2001, they have accumulated 17 golds, 19 silvers, nine bronzes in the four editions (2001, 2005, 2007, 2011) that offered the event.

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