They got their boats only last September but, with just four months of intensive training, Singapore's Nacra 15 sailors managed to secure the country a slot for this year's Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The Republic's Chia Teck Pin and Sophia Rose Meyers, both 16, scored 78 net points and finished 10th at the Australia Youth Sailing Championships in Queensland yesterday. They were the highest among the eligible mixed gender teams for qualification to the Oct 6-18 YOG in Buenos Aires.
The five-day regatta was the designated Oceania and Asia YOG qualifier and featured 13 pairs. The first nine spots and 12th place were filled by Australia.
Singaporeans Raynn Kwok and Vicke Young were 11th, while China's Dong Ying and Zhou Jie, who were also vying for the Asian slot, finished last.
Skipper Sophia said: "The winds were light on the first day, but it got stronger - over 20 knots - and it got really insane. We had two DNFs (did not finish) on the second day and we were bummed after that, but we finished fourth in a race the next day and told ourselves that it wasn't over yet."
The duo steadily improved after that, and clinched a crucial win in the 10th race of the 12-race regatta to overtake the Chinese duo.
Nacra 15 coach and former national sailor Terence Koh said: "It was a challenging regatta given the conditions - light winds at the start and strong winds at the end - and even the top Australian teams struggled a little in the conditions.
"In the light winds, we know that we can really be competitive and it is very variable and shifty, with it being anybody's game in the light winds."
Sophie and Teck Pin will still need to beat other Singaporean pairs, including Raynn and Vicke, to secure their YOG spots, with April's Nacra 15 World Championships in Barcelona being used as an internal selection event.
Sophia said: "Qualifying feels great, but the journey is just starting. I am quite happy with the progress, but not satisfied with where we are at."
The Feb 7-11 Singapore Open Windsurfing Championships serve as the Asian qualifier for the BicTechno 293+ class at the YOG and the host will look to seal another spot at the Buenos Aires Games. Singapore won a bronze in the Techno 293 windsurfing class at the inaugural 2010 YOG in Singapore and clinched two golds in the Byte CII class at the 2014 Nanjing edition.