SEA Games 2017

SEA Games: Young Singapore team laser sharp

(From left) Bernie Chin, Mark Wong and Ryan Lo teamed up to win the Laser Standard, beating the experienced Malaysian sailors 2-0 in the final after a 1-1 round-robin tie.
(From left) Bernie Chin, Mark Wong and Ryan Lo teamed up to win the Laser Standard, beating the experienced Malaysian sailors 2-0 in the final after a 1-1 round-robin tie.PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE SAILING FEDERATION

Lo and rookies Chin, Wong master rough seas to beat hosts

For sailor Ryan Lo, the lone remaining squad member who contested the team Laser Standard event two years ago, the bid for SEA Games gold had at times felt as bleak as the weather this past week.

Storm clouds were often overcast at the National Sailing Centre in Langkawi, while heavy rain and winds going up to 10 knots made for tough conditions.

The trio of 20-year-old Lo, 18-year-old Bernie Chin and 22-year-old Mark Wong navigated all that yesterday, clinching Singapore's first sailing gold at these Games by beating Malaysia 2-0.

They had earned a place in the final after finishing tops over two rounds in the three-team event, with Thailand missing out.

But while the Malaysians - the defending champions - retained two of their members from the 2015 squad, including two-time Olympian Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy, the Singapore squad were younger and more inexperienced.

Said Lo: "This win is quite special to us... Coming in with a new team, we were training hard. It was just relief (when we came) off the water - all the hard work has paid off.

"It was worth it, all the effort we put into team racing and in the gym. Grit and hard work won it."

Veteran Laser Standard sailors Colin Cheng and Scott Glen Sydney are not part of the SEA Games squad this time, although two-time Olympian Cheng had a hand in the team's success as he helped with coaching the sailors in the lead-up to the biennial affair.

Having drawn 1-1 with the Malaysians in the round robin, the final in their home waters was always going to be tricky.

Said Wong: "There were a lot of close situations... I'm proud of my team-mates, we did the best we could."

Added Lo: "We had good coordination... We knew we had to execute, and should the plan fail, we had a back-up plan. The main thing that helped us was good starts. That won the races for us.

"The Malaysians are all really good sailors... we have to respect them but we focused on executing our own plan, and it worked."

Chin, the 2014 Youth Olympics champion (Byte), will have a day's rest before turning his focus to the individual Laser Radial event.

He said: "(This) will be a morale booster, but it's a totally different class. What's done is done and it does not affect the way I approach the races."

In the team Laser Radial event, the trio of Simone Chen, Jillian Lee and Jessica Goh settled for silver after being beaten 2-0 by Thailand.

The Optimist team were ousted 3-0 by Thailand in the semi-finals, but clinched bronze after beating Myanmar 2-0.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Young team laser sharp'. Print Edition | Subscribe