Sailing: sailors win more than medals at Asian Championships

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SINGAPORE — Four years ago, sailors Koh Yi Nian and Tan Jen-E were rivals, battling it out in a regatta.

Last week they rode to a duet podium after securing silver in the men’s 49er at the Asian Sailing Championships in Abu Dhabi. They had finished second behind Tokyo Indian Olympians KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar, whose compatriots Prince Noble and Manu Francis were third.

While Koh and Tan enjoyed the result, they valued their performance more, as there was evidence that their preparations for September’s Asian Games in Hangzhou were on track. They had improved in the more technical aspects of racing, like getting a good start, as well as in other areas, like learning to complement each other.

Koh, 21, said: “More than winning a medal, the Asian Championships taught us to believe in our process because we were able to execute the things we were working on before leaving.”

While the duo had decided to campaign for this year’s Asian Games at the end of 2020, they were only able to step up on-water training after Koh completed his national service in November of the year. last year.

And although their partnership is relatively new, they have their sights set on winning a medal in Hangzhou.

They have been trying to raise $20,000 for their Asian Games campaign, which plans to travel for competitions and training camps in Thailand, Portugal and Germany to gain more racing experience in tougher conditions. windy.

Windfoilers Marsha Shahrin and Nicole Lim, who are also hoping to compete in the Asian Games, picked up silver and bronze respectively in the women’s iQFoil. This class will replace the RS:X windsurfing class at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

While the field in Abu Dhabi was small – the event was won by Ma Kwan-ching from Hong Kong and only included three other Singaporeans – Marsha and Lim believe there was a lot to take away.

“Given circumstances like Covid and other hurdles, there are parts of my performance that I can be proud of,” said Marsha, who expressed her gratitude to Singapore tycoon Gordon Tang for funding the trip. iQFoil team. “There are also parts that I know I need to work on, so in that regard it was a good experience overall.”

For Lim, there was the challenge of competing in his first overseas competition in four years and in a new class. After the 2017 SEA Games, the 25-year-old took a break from competition to focus more on coaching the local windsurfing community.

She said: “It was quite difficult because it was my first trip in four years. It’s the first time I’ve been abroad to participate in the iQFoil, which is a new class.

“It’s different from your normal windsurfing and competing in Asia is very different. It was a challenge but also a really good learning experience.”

The mechanics of windsurfing and windfoiling are different – the latter allows the individual to zoom above the water on a hydrofoil compared to the former where the board is in direct contact with the water.

In addition to getting used to new equipment, competing in a new class is also difficult because there isn’t a lot of existing research on how to improve certain aspects of the sport like increasing speed.

It means they had to figure out a lot of things on their own, but Marsha, 21, is grateful for the support from people like the Singapore Sport Institute (SSI).

The National University of Singapore undergraduate worked closely with sports scientists from SSI to analyze what the most successful windfoilers are doing to develop a plan that can help improve their performance.

For example, those who sail the iQFoil generally have a larger physique, so Marsha tried to gain weight and train certain muscle groups more.

Support from the local and overseas community in terms of feedback and knowledge exchange has also been helpful in navigating this new class.

Marsha said: “In that regard, it’s not like I’m completely floating around aimlessly and there are things that I’ve been working on and it’s good in that sense.”

Those interested in contributing to the 49er Asian Games men’s campaign can do so on this website.

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