SINGAPORE - In his final regatta as an Optimist sailor, Muhammad Daniel Kei Yazid retained his Asian and Oceanian Optimist Championships title on Friday (Oct 6) in Hong Kong.
The 13-year-old's victory extends Singapore's reign as the champions in the regatta for the eighth consecutive year, since 2010.
Daniel finished with 48 points after 10 races, comfortably ahead of Turkey's Demir Dirik (64) and China's Lin Xilun (65). Singapore's Finian Lee was fifth (106) while Samuel Hung was ninth (114). Turkey participated in the event even though they are not part of Asia.
Singapore's Faith Toh finished 10th (123 points) in a fleet of 130 sailors to emerge as the top girl sailor.
The Optimist class is for sailors who are aged 15 and under. However, Daniel will be making an early transition to the 420 class, even though he is still eligible for the Optimist.
He said: "As my last event, I wanted to give it my best shot."
The Victoria School Secondary 2 student had arrived in Hong Kong on Sept 24, six days before the regatta began, to prepare for it.
He said: "There was of course pressure going on as the defending champion, knowing that more people wanted to win.
"So I came here a few days earlier than the rest of the team to train by myself. I spent a lot of time to get myself familiarised with the event venue. I wanted to go the extra mile to make sure that I got the extra advantage going into the regatta.
"It feels great to win this not once, but twice in a row."
The win was also sweet redemption for Daniel, who admitted that failing to win a medal in July's Optimist World Championships in Thailand was a huge setback.
It was the first time in 11 editions that Singapore had failed to bag a medal at the event.
Daniel said: "It's more satisfying that I could redeem myself from the great disappointment from the World Championships. It came to a point when I didn't want to remember what happened at that event anymore. I wanted to forget that quickly, block it out and just move on."
In August's SEA Games, Daniel won a bronze in the Optimist mixed team racing event with Finian, Max Teo, Ron Koh and Radiance Koh.
Faith was satisfied with her result in Hong Kong even though she expected herself to do better. The Raffles' Girls School Secondary 1 student said: "I'm thrilled to emerge as the top girl. I came here putting high expectations on myself because I've grown more experienced in this class having been to the World Championships.
"I felt I could have done a lot better, but I'm thankful for the result."