S'porean sailing pair's hopes blown away

S'porean sailing pair's hopes blown away
Sailors Matthew Lau (left) and Loh Jia Yi, in Langkawi, Malaysia for the Isaf World Youth Sailing Championships, which ended yesterday.
PHOTO: Singapore Sailing Federation

The winds off Langkawi, Malaysia, in the last week were so strong that they could have surpassed the 50km/h speed limit on Singapore roads on certain days.

The strong breeze, measuring up to 28 knots (51.9km/h), put paid to sailor Loh Jia Yi's hopes of retaining the boys' 420 title at the Isaf Youth World Championships, which ended yesterday.

The 17-year-old Raffles Institution student, who won the double-handed dinghy event with Jonathan Yeo in Portugal last year, managed only a sixth-placed finish yesterday with Matthew Lau in Malaysia, with Americans Will Logue and Bram Brakman claiming the gold with a race to spare.

The pair's results were the best among the nine classes the 14-strong Singapore team competed in. Jia Yi said: "The conditions were very different from that in Portugal last year.

"The winds here were very strong and made it very difficult for all of us, since we had been training in light winds in Singapore before this."

"Also, we weren't expecting such strong winds here, since we have never experienced them so strong here," added the South-east Asia (SEA) Games silver medallist, who was last in Langkawi in February last year.


Team manager Soh Ling Ying added: "The winds during the first half of the regatta were particularly strong, between 25 and 28 knots, so the conditions were really tricky and favoured the physically bigger and stronger sailors."

Bernie Chin, who won the Under-17 title at the Laser Radial World Championships in Canada last August, finished 29th in a 66-strong field, while other Singapore sailors fared no better.

While the results in the 2015 edition paled in comparison to Singapore's best-ever showing in 2014 - a gold and a bronze - Jia Yi was satisfied with his outing in Malaysia, which could be his last world-level regatta in the 420 class.

The Singapore Sailing Federation is gradually replacing the 420 with the 29er, and should complete the process by mid-year.

Jia Yi said: "I probably am not going to convert to the 29er, although I am not totally sure yet."

"But I would definitely be focusing more on my studies since I will be taking the A Levels at the end of the year, and I am not sure how much training and competition I will take on this year," added the former Optimist world champion.

"We (Matthew and I) definitely came to Langkawi with the intention of retaining the title, but our competitors have improved since last year, and we have sailed the best we could under such tricky conditions."

This article was first published on Jan 4, 2016.
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