Optimist news

It has been a busy summer. Let us hear from a young sailor who went to Singapore for an eyeopening experience.

In the summer of 2017, a group of 13 sailors, coach Simon Leung and a parent helper, travelled abroad to the Singapore National Sailing Center to participate in three days of training and three days of racing in the Pesta Sukan Dinghy Regatta 2017. Three words that briefly describes Hong Kong Schools Sailing Association’s remarkable journey to Singapore — demanding, exciting and inspiring. But what made it so remarkable?

During our first three days of training, we were very fortunate and honoured to receive coaching from a three-time Olympic competitor, Siew Shaw Her, and national athlete, Ai Li Ng.

We started the day by learning about rigging. On the surface, rigging seems to be a simple task that we were all able to do quite well but, in reality, we had numerous faults. Through coach Ai Li’s comprehensive teaching, we quickly corrected our mistakes and paid extra attention to our sail ties throughout the week. Afterwards, we attended Coach Shaw Her’s briefing with a fertile mind and a willingness to learn. These briefings included a lot of crucial information about the simplest things like going upwind and off-wind as well as more advanced things like tactics during racing. I personally found these briefings to be invaluable because where else can you find better coaching than from an Olympian?

In the rocky waters and gusty winds, we completed many exercises, like follow the leader, rabbit starts and mock races. Although we have done most of these exercises back in Hong Kong, the towering waves and blustering winds flipped it into a whole different scene. The most challenging thing was launching and recovering our boats due to the violent waves near shore and the sand eating into our trolleys’ wheels. This was when our teamwork skills shone because only with each other’s help, were we able to finish the day successfully.

After a long awaited rest-day, we stepped into the three days of racing in the Pesta Sukan Dinghy Regatta. At first, we were all a bit surprised and shocked that there were so many people in our fleet (silver) and that the total number of participants in the whole Optimist division equated to around 150+ sailors. We have never faced such a large fleet before! During the race, we each faced different mishaps with the most serious being a snapped mast during a race from Asgar. Despite our worries and misfortunes, we all did outstandingingly well in the race, with five of us being in the top 10 and HKSSA taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Congratulations to Tsang Sze Ching, Cheng Cheuk Yin and Lam Hei Man respectively!

No matter the results of the race, we most definitely learnt many, many new things. Other than that, we gained sailing experience after training and racing in a foreign sea. In addition, we as a team have understood our own faults in sailing and that we have to be more prepared in the future, eg. other than bringing our sails, we also have to bring our own mainsheet, tiller extension, bailers, etc.

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank HKSSA coach Simon Leung, and the parent helpers who volunteered their own hearts and hands towards this trip.

Our next article will be about Hong Kong Optimist sailing in the Worlds and European Championships — stay tuned!

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