S'pore Optimistic after 1-2 finish

The Republic's sailors kept the Singapore flag flying high at the Optimist Asian Championships in Japan.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's top young sailors have given themselves a massive confidence boost ahead of December's South-east Asia Games, as they produced a one-two finish at the Optimist Asian Championships team race yesterday in Hayama, Japan.

Both the Republic's teams reached the finals, as the Singapore 2 quintet of Koh Yi Kun, Ryan Teo, Bertha Han, Ryan Kwok and Issac Tang pipped the Singapore 1 side to the crown.

The Singapore 1 team consisted of Loh Jia Yi, Edward Tan, Firdaus Fathin Rasyiqin, Samuel Neo and Raynn Kwok.

National coach Fernando Alegre believes that the success in a field of 16 teams augurs well for the major competitions ahead, such as the SEA Games and next year's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

"We have a brilliant generation of sailors who had worked hard over days, months and years. But we must never underestimate our opponents," said the Peruvian, who was named Coach of the Year at the

Singapore Sports Awards for leading the Singapore sailors to a clean sweep of medals at last year's Optimist World Championships.

"This result shows that we are on the right path to achieve our goals. We are still a year away from the Asian Games but we are ready to take on this challenge."

Singapore 2 had eliminated the Indonesia, Japan 1, Thailand 1, Chinese Taipei and South Korea teams to reach the final.

For skipper Yi Kun, the choppy waters and light wind of 10 knots played to the strengths of both Singapore teams as they defeated their Asian rivals en route to the final.

The 14-year-old Raffles Institution student said: "These are the usual sailing conditions in Singapore and we are used to it.

"Both our teams were really focused. We showed good teamwork and communications and we were very precise in everything we did."

Alegre added: "I hope the boys and the girls can all win medals at the SEA Games and Asian Games and I hope the colour of their medals is the best one."


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