Sailor Loh Jia Yi seals individual title at sailing competition in Italy

Singapore sailor Loh Jia Yi in action at the Optimist World Championships in Italy, where he led the 259-strong international fleet.
Singapore sailor Loh Jia Yi in action at the Optimist World Championships in Italy, where he led the 259-strong international fleet.PHOTO: MATIAS CAPIZZANO

Sailor Loh Jia Yi tamed the currents of Lake Garda in Italy yesterday to claim Singapore's third successive individual crown at the annual Optimist World Championships.

The 15-year-old recorded an emphatic victory over the 259-strong international field by sailing away from the start and never surrendering his lead.

After the five-day contest, Jia Yi recorded six wins out of 10 races to become the first Singaporean boy to earn the crown.

Said Singapore Sailing Federation chief executive Tan Wearn Haw: "This win is rewarding for Jia Yi and the team, as they have worked long and hard over the past years. It's a fantastic way to start the next and more important step of their Olympic journey.

"Our junior sailors have shown that they have the capability. If they continue on this trajectory with the same commitment and fortitude, they will excel at the youth and Olympic levels for sure."

Jia Yi's win comes in the wake of compatriots Kimberly Lim and Yukie Yokoyama's victories in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Not to be outdone by her seniors' success, Singapore's Bertha Han also clinched the top female sailor trophy.

The 15-year-old who was making her debut in the competition managed to post two wins in the 10 races based on unofficial results. The official race results and the rest of the race rankings were not available at press time.

The sailors were also still out on the water and thus unavailable for comment.

Earlier, the Singapore team of Jia Yi, Bertha, Edward Tan, Koh Yi Kun and Fathin Rasyiqin Mohd Firdaus had wrested the team title from 47 other squads.

With yesterday's victories, Singapore have completed a clean sweep of the three titles on offer - team event, individual category, and the Best Performing Nation.

Said SSF's Tan: "Congratulations to both the team and support groups. The victories are a resounding testament to the junior development structure that was put in place over 20 years ago by the visionaries of sailing."

ugenec@sph.com.sg