Women sailors' treble gives final-day cheer

10-gold haul is Games record but next hosts Malaysia catching up fast

HAVING already bagged two out of three golds on offer at the National Sailing Centre, Singapore's sailors raced to Marina Bay yesterday afternoon in a triumphant mood, ready to cheer their team-mates on in the sport's last four events of the SEA Games.

They arrived to a muted atmosphere and dark clouds looming over the bay.

Singapore's men's Laser Standard team, undefeated in the round-robin stages, had just been pipped to gold by Malaysia, with Colin Cheng, Scott Glen Sydney and Ryan Lo beaten 2-0 in the best-of-three final.

The men's keelboaters, too, soon settled for silver after Stanley Chan, Colin Ng and Anthony Kiong lost their medal race 0-2 to the Philippines.

But, by the time clear skies returned in the evening, it was undeniable that Singapore's sailors still had plenty to cheer about.

The team finished the top sailing nation of the Games with 10 golds, seven silvers and one bronze, surpassing their best haul of seven titles from the 2005 edition in Manila.

The women accounted for all three titles clinched yesterday, with women's skiff 49erFX pair of Griselda Khng and Sara Tan flawless en route to winning gold, winning all 10 races in the opening series, as well as yesterday's medal race.

Yukie Yokoyama and Samantha Neubronner also took top position in the women's 420 event.

The women's keelboat team of Jovina Choo, Terena Lam, Dawn Liu and Daniella Ng - already champions in the fleet racing event - completed a double by winning the match-racing event yesterday at Marina Bay.

Despite their stellar showing, skiff 49erFX helm Khng said there is still much to improve on if they are to earn a berth at next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Said the 23-year-old: "There are still things in the races that didn't go so well, so we have to sit down and review where we went wrong and see what can be improved on."

For Yukie, who had won the Optimist gold at the 2011 Games in Indonesia, victory tastes sweeter when it is shared with a partner.

The 18-year-old and Samantha, 17, had a four-point lead going into the medal race, but they were mindful about keeping their closest competitors Malaysia at bay.

She said: "It was very nerve-racking waiting for the race to start... This feels more special because I get to win it with a team-mate. It's like sharing the joy."

The women's keelboat team clinched their gold without having to even get into their boats yesterday, after poor wind conditions delayed races for almost four hours.

Race regulations stipulate that no race can be started after 5.30pm. The gold was awarded to them based on their unbeaten record in the round-robin stage.

In the men's 420 event, held at the National Sailing Centre, Loh Jia Yi and Matthew Scott Lau came in second best to Malaysia's Muhamad Uzair Amin Mohd Yusof and Naquib Eiman Shahrin. Thailand's Puvich Chanyim and Sarawut Phetsiri were third.

Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan credited the team for a good showing, particularly lauding the technique and tactics on display over the past 11/2 weeks.

He said: "What's important for me is how they sailed - the quality of (it)."

But, with Causeway rivals Malaysia hot on Singapore's heels with seven golds, Tan also cautioned against complacency.

"Our sailors can never rest on their laurels... We always have the highest regard for our neighbours," he said.

maychen@sph.com.sg

hosr@sph.com.sg

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