Powerboat: Singapore’s Loh Kai Ling overcomes fear to win Asia C’ship’s female category

Loh Kai Ling (right) won the inaugural women's category of the Nov 4-6 Singapore Asia Powerboat Championship. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE – Even though she had done motorsports racing for nearly a decade, Loh Kai Ling still remembers the fear she felt when she tried her hand at powerboating about a year ago.

While both sports entailed racing around circuits at fast speeds, having to take into account other factors such as the sea and weather conditions made it challenging for the 32-year-old.

She said: “Our first training was in Thailand waters, which was much calmer than Singapore waters. We had some ups and downs and we couldn’t get comfortable even with the water down there.

“We were thinking, ‘Oh my god, there are so many waves. Are we going to topple any time soon? Is our boat able to handle it? Is our body going to fly out?’ So we were quite worried at that point in time.”

But despite the initial struggles, Loh persevered with the sport and her decision paid off when she won the women’s event at the Nov 4-6 Singapore Asia Powerboat Championship at the National Service Resort & Country Club (NSRCC) Sea Sports Centre in Changi. This is the first time the competition featured an all-female race.

The event was one of four stops of the 2022 Asia Powerboat Championships – with one in Malaysia and two in Thailand.

Loh came in first among seven drivers after four races over Saturday and Sunday, with compatriots Alice Tham and Jolyn Cheong joint second, and Janice Oo finishing third.

Loh, an architectural coatings specialist, said: “It means quite a lot to me because I’m into motorsports racing, mainly car racing so this is the first time I’ve joined sea racing and it’s something new to me.

“It means a lot that we can show women can do what men can do as well.”

After taking part in her first competition, Loh is looking for more opportunities and is encouraged to train more to get used to the rigours of the sport – during Sunday’s two races, the drivers burned over 1,200 calories as they completed several laps around a 1.2km circuit.

Loh also noted that it was normal to get bruises and blisters from racing as well.

She said: “For powerboat, it’s like go-kart where you need a lot of stamina and you need to train hard on that to endure the whole race sessions.

“It trains our perseverance although we feel like giving up. Even though it was very tiring, we still pushed on because we were thinking if the guys can do this, we can do this as well. We have to stay 100 per cent focused all the time.”

The men’s championship was won by Singapore-based Australian Campbell Jenkins, who finished runner-up in the previous edition of the Singapore Asia Powerboat Championship in 2019.

Singapore’s Clement Tham was second followed by Thailand’s A.E. Supachai.

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