Sailing: Singapore sailors on top again

From left: Sailors Koh Yi Nian, Daniel Hung, Jodie Lai, Muhammad Daniel Kei Yazid and James Koh who helped Singapore regain the Optimist world team title in Poland yesterday. Jodie claimed the girls' title too by a huge margin.
From left: Sailors Koh Yi Nian, Daniel Hung, Jodie Lai, Muhammad Daniel Kei Yazid and James Koh who helped Singapore regain the Optimist world team title in Poland yesterday. Jodie claimed the girls' title too by a huge margin.PHOTO: OPTIMIST WORLDS 2015/ROBERT HAJDUK

Five-member team exact revenge on Thailand to be crowned world Optimist champions in Poland

Going into this year's Optimist World Championships, Singapore's sailors were free of the pressure of being defending champions.

Instead, they bore in mind the hurt of losing a trophy that had been in the Republic's hands in the three years before that.

In wresting back the world team title from Thailand early yesterday morning in Poland, Singapore's team of five young sailors exacted sweet revenge on the same team who had beaten them to the top of the podium in the 15-and-Under sailing class the year before.

Jodie Lai made it another world title when she won the girls' category by a huge 47-point margin. The 14-year-old Raffles Girls' School student was the top girl after nine races, finishing ahead of second-placed Gaia Bergonzini of Italy. Spaniard Aina Colom Miro was third, a further three points behind.

Jodie finished second overall in the Open category, the only girl placed among the top 16 in the 272-strong fleet. Slovenian Rok Verderber took the title, with Norwegian Mathias Berthet third.

She then teamed up with James Koh, Daniel Hung, Koh Yi Nian and Muhammad Daniel Kei Yazid as the Singapore team won the first race in the best-of-three final. They were declared the champions after the race committee called off the remaining races due to lack of wind.

The team had beaten Argentina in the semi-finals en route to facing the Thais in the final.

In a phone interview from Dziwnow, located near the Baltic Sea in north-western Poland, Jodie told The Straits Times that the poor wind conditions had made the regatta a much tougher one.

Said Jodie, who is taking part in her first Optimist World Championships: "We were very nervous in every race because we knew that one mistake could mean losing the whole thing.

"We really wanted to do well but we also knew we can't put too much pressure on ourselves."

Of her girls' title, the 2014 Asian Games Optimist champion added: "I didn't know what the level would be like so I was nervous.

"I thought a top-10 finish would be good so I'm very relieved."

James, who competed in last year's edition, said the team win was a huge boost of confidence.

"We felt after losing the team event last year that Singapore's reign in Optimist sailing would end. Now that we've won, it's very reassuring," he added.

Singapore rounded off a stellar outing by winning the Nations Cup, which was awarded to the best-performing nation at the regatta.

Singapore Sailing Federation high performance manager Terence Koh said the young sailors' performance further ascertains that they are on the right path.

He added: "It's a great result and shows that the sailors are still on the right track. But it's important for them to remember that they're just starting out and there's still a long road to go."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore sailors on top again'. Print Edition | Subscribe