Riva del Garda, Italy, Sunday, July 21, 2013 – Singapore are Optimist team racing world champions for the third year running at the 2013 Optimist World Championships, a regatta for sailors 15 years and below.
The team of five sailors – Loh Jiayi, Bertha Han, Koh Yi Kun, Fathin Rasyiqin, and Edward Tan – also ensured that this was also the eighth time Singapore have made it to the podium.
Singapore first beat Tunisia, Portugal and Slovenia on Saturday to advance to the final 16, where they then beat Uruguay, Brazil, Great Britain and United States respectively to qualify for the finals.
In the best-of-three finals, Singapore lost the first race but came back with two consecutive wins to secure the world title with a 2–1 win.
In 2011, Singapore clinched the Nations Cup and the World Team Racing title through Ryan Lo, Kimberly Lim, Elisa Yukie Yokoyama, Jillian Lee and Jessica Goh in New Zealand.
In 2012, Singapore repeated the previous year’s success as Elisa Yukie Yokoyama, Samuel Neo, Jessica Goh, Edward Tan and Loh Jiayi swept the two team titles on offer in the Dominican Republic.
Held from July 21 to 22, the team event marked the mid-point of the week-long individual series. The weekend saw Singapore’s young sailors pitting themselves against 47 other teams from around the world in a series of races to determine the eventual champion.
After the first day of team racing, the 48 national teams were whittled down to 16 for the second day. Teams were eliminated one by one, but our sailors showed great form throughout the various stages on both days to stay in the game.
The Singapore sailors are coached by Fernando Alegre, who has produced a steady stream of Singapore Optimist world champions in the past couple of years.
“Our Optimist team and the entire junior development system has done the country proud in clinching the world team racing title, three times in a row,” said Rupert Ong, the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) vice-president overseeing high performance. “Our sailors have also proven that with hard work, dedication and focus, they can win at the highest levels. I’m sure their win will inspire future generations of young sailors, just like how their predecessors did.”
Apart from Koh Yi Kun, 14, who has one more year to go, this was the last Optimist World Championships for the other four sailors. It was an emotion-filled day for most of them as they cried tears of joy after beating Italy in the finals.
Said Bertha Han, 15: “We have worked hard from the very beginning as a team and even though we made some mistakes during the competition, we still managed to win the world team racing title because of the tremendous support from our friends and family, and of course, guidance from our coach Fernando Alegre.”
Added Loh Jiayi, 15: “Despite some of the mistakes we made along the way, we adopted a ‘never-say-die’ attitude, and fought hard till the end as one single unit. Our hard work from long time ago has certainly paid off, and we would like to thank all our supporters and friends who have helped us in achieving our dreams!”