SINGAPORE - Unfavourable weather conditions caused several disruptions to this year's B Division boys' sailing ILCA 4 competition, but these interruptions turned out to be a blessing in disguise for St Joseph’s Institution’s Kenan Tan.
Before the final two races of the three-race final at the National Sailing Centre on Tuesday (April 26), the Secondary 3 student had not been at his best.
"Yesterday I wasn't in my usual zone. I was pretty stressed because I had a lot of pressure. They had high hopes and expectations and I didn't want to let them down," he said, referring to the hopes of his friends and family.
On Monday (April 25), the 14-year-old had finished second and fourth in the first two qualifying races before winning the third one to make the cut for the 10-strong final. He then finished third in the first of the three races in the final.
When competition resumed on Tuesday morning, he was still feeling the weight of those expectations.
But as the sailors endured another wait with the morning's races unable to go on due to the weather, Kenan finally managed to calm himself down. When racing resumed, he finished first in both races to clinch the title.
He said: "It was pretty long and we had to wait for race officials to set the course properly. That time helped me to calm down a lot more and put to practice the advice of friends and family.
"I'm pretty surprised and proud of myself. During qualifiers yesterday I wasn't doing well and I barely qualified for final."
Completing the podium were Raffles Institution's Isaac Goh and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)'s Jarrod Toh, who finished second and third respectively.
Isaac, who had been aiming for the gold medal, felt that he could have sailed better, especially in areas such as his race starts and cutting down on mistakes during the race. He had won the first race, but finished third and fifth after that.
But the 15-year-old was glad to be back racing again after the National School Games sailing competition was put on hold for the past two years owing to the pandemic.
This year, it returned with a new format.
Instead of five or seven 40-minute races to decide the winner, sailors took part in a qualifying round comprising three seven- to 10-minute races, with the top two to four sailors - depending on the number of groups for each class - qualifying directly for the final.
Those who did not qualify for the final competed in the repechage round, with the top two qualifying for the final. The final was then contested over three races.
Isaac said: "For me, this year's competition was fun. It's very short and there are very few contestants in each group, which makes it hard. With the course being shorter, there's also no room for any mistakes."
For Jarrod, the competitiveness of this year's NSG was something he enjoyed.
The 15-year-old said: "It's really fun. I managed to meet my past competitors and race against them, but before we launch on shore, we can chit chat and that's something I would never forget about NSG.
"It also becomes really competitive. It's more of schools fighting against other schools instead of us sailing our own races, which builds that team spirit."