Tokyo 2020

'Pretty unreal' as sailors in medal race

Cecilia Low (left) and Kimberly Lim racing in the women's 49er FX off Enoshima Yacht Harbour on Friday. They made the medal race by being ninth overall.
Cecilia Low (left) and Kimberly Lim racing in the women's 49er FX off Enoshima Yacht Harbour on Friday. They made the medal race by being ninth overall.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

After six years of hard work since their partnership began in 2015, Singapore sailors Cecilia Low and Kimberly Lim can finally claim to be on top of the world, even if it was for just 33min 47sec.

In the 11th of 12 races of the Olympic women's 49er FX regatta at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour yesterday, the duo topped the 21-country fleet, the first time any Singaporean sailor has done so at the Games.

The superb result helped them finish ninth overall with 97 net points, which means after a rest day today, they will compete in the medal race tomorrow, another first for Singapore sailing.

However, with points from the preliminaries carrying over into the medal race, they will not be able to overhaul the top three for a shot at glory. The Netherlands and defending champions Brazil are tied for the lead on 70 points. Germany are third on 73.

Still, they have the distinction of finishing as Asia's top pair. Japan and China were 18th and 19th respectively and did not make the medal race comprising 10 boats.

There had been some uncertainty as to whether Low and Lim had made the top 10 because they had dropped to 13th in their final race yesterday. However, the Race 11 disqualification of the Americans worked in the 2018 Asian Games champions' favour.

Low, 28, said: "We didn't know (about the achievements) and we didn't expect it."

Lim, 24, added: "Only when (Singapore chef de mission and former sailor) Ben Tan told us, then we knew for sure. It's pretty unreal.

"That's our first win at the Olympics, we'll keep that forever. Winning a race is always challenging in these kinds of fleets. It's always special. We haven't won many races in our careers in the FX actually, so this is a special one."

In the 49erFX, catching speed and position are key. Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) general manager Chung Pei Ming said: "A lot of effort is put into testing equipment, settings and sailing techniques in various conditions.

"If we are able to go faster... by even 1 per cent, it gives us the advantage and freedom to manoeuvre at the front of the fleet."

This they did to perfection in the 11th race, with Low adding: "We knew we got it right, we got the speed, all we needed to do was just to protect (our position)."

They had finished no higher than 11th in six races on Tuesday and Wednesday. But on Friday and yesterday, they were third, second, seventh, eighth, first and 13th.

Low said: "It's been so intense. The other teams in the top 10 are super experienced and super good. We just want to recover as much as possible and be fresh for the medal race and enjoy the race."

The other Singaporean sailors in Tokyo are Ryan Lo (men's Laser) and Amanda Ng (windsurfing). Lo finished 21st out of 35 after 10 races. Ng was 26th out of 27 after 12 races in the women's RS:X class.

SSF president Lincoln Chee was encouraged by their performances as they work towards a better showing at Paris 2024. Noting Low and Lim's coach Fernando Kuo's contributions, he said: "We are so happy for Kimberly and Cecilia... (they) showed great commitment, talent, hard work and sacrifice.

"Ryan and his coach Nenad Viali also deserve a shout-out as Ryan finished among the top 10 in two races in one of the most competitive classes in sailing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 01, 2021, with the headline ''Pretty unreal' as sailors in medal race'. Subscribe