Tan to step down as sailing chief

Outgoing Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan speaking at the announcement yesterday of Singapore's sailing team for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.
Outgoing Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan speaking at the announcement yesterday of Singapore's sailing team for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After four terms, he tells Singapore sailors to rise to new challenges; deputy will take over

As Ben Tan concludes his tenure as president of SingaporeSailing, the national sports association for sailing, he hopes the fraternity will continue to embrace and adapt to the challenges that come its way.

The 50-year-old will step down at today's annual general meeting, having served the maximum of four two-year terms. Deputy president Lincoln Chee is set to take over.

Tan's highlights during his eight years as president include developing sailors with good character, building relationships with foreign counterparts and establishing a "rock solid" governance within the association.

"I'm happy to step down because my job is done and it's time for the next person to take over," he told The Straits Times yesterday on the sidelines of the Singapore sailing team presentation at Monti at Fullerton Pavilion.

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Singapore were represented by 10 sailors - the most ever.

Pointing to how SingaporeSailing welcomed new events instead of avoiding them, Tan said: "(The ultimate goal) is to be the best sailor you can be - that usually means winning medals, but there's a difference. Medals will come if you're a great sailor, and (to be a great sailor) you need to be honed by competitions.

"So don't shy away, (as challenges) make you a better sailor and a better person. There are risks but the answer is not to run away, the answer is to manage the risks and you can see our sailors live by that."

It is why Tan, an Asian Games and four-time SEA Games sailing champion, has an "optimistic projection" of how the 15 national sailors bound for the Aug 18-Sept 2 Asian Games will perform in Indonesia.

Singapore's sailors won three golds, two silvers and two bronzes at the 2014 Games in South Korea.

They will face strong competition in Indonesia from the likes of China, Korea and Thailand, but Tan said: "From the sailors' perspective, they control their training and not their competitors' performance... I wouldn't be overconfident, all I can do is trust that our sailors have put in their best effort - look at the sacrifices they have made."

Women's 470 sailors Elisa Yukie Yokoyama and Cheryl Teo deferred school for a year to focus on their campaign for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. They will return to school in the next academic year.

Their team-mates, 49erFX duo Cecilia Low and Kimberly Lim, also put school on hold in their bid to qualify for the 2020 Games.

Men's 470 sailors Daniel Toh and Xavier Ng have had to juggle training and being full-time first-year junior college students this year.

Three-time SEA Games champion Yokoyama is gunning for a podium finish on her Asiad debut after twice falling short of qualifying for the 2010 and 2014 Games.

"The Asian Games are a lot more intense because the field is smaller and I'm now sailing in an Olympic class, so the level of the field is really high," said the 21-year-old.

"In Asia, the Japanese and Chinese are among the top 10 in the world and I'm sailing with a lot more experienced sailors... it can be a bit intimidating, but I'm excited to race with the best in the world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'Tan to step down as sailing chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe