By guest contributors Chai Xun (12S03Q) and Ernest Tan (12A01C)
The sacred ‘unite’ cheer declares that we’ll fight in the sun, we’ll fight in the rain, and the sailing team knows this phrase all too well. Facing all enemies from the burning sun to brutal storms, as long as there is wind blowing, sailors will race.
It was a long week out at sea for the sailors. Spanning 4 days from 17-20 April, the National Inter-Schools Sailing competition was held at the National Sailing Center along East Coast Park, with competition in both the single-man Laser craft and the two-man 420 craft. Raffles having won the ‘Grand Slam’ last year, with the Raffles schools taking home all the titles for Boys and Girls in the A, B and C Divisions, the RI team this year was definitely touted as the favourite to win again, especially with their large stable of national sailors.
The first day of sailing started out in the searing heat. The wind was light and the sea was calm, but it was not all smooth sailing for our sailors. While they shot to the lead early in the first race, the race was abandoned due to shifty wind conditions and the fight was renewed all over again. Later on, the 420 sailors Nicodemus Tan and Brad Lee were taken to an onshore protest hearing for alleged rule-breaking. Our 420 sailors managed to defend themselves well, and the protest, initiated by MJC, was dismissed. Laser sailors Chai Xun and Nathan Tang weren’t as lucky though, being disqualified for a false start in the second race. Still, at the end of the first day the boys had established a clear lead over their rivals.
The second day of competition continued in much the same challenging gusty and shifty wind conditions, which required much skill and strategy from the sailors. This, however, did not deter them from doing well and the sailors finished with even better positions. The 7 Laser boys dominated the charts, taking all the top 8 spots except the 5th position. Terence Choo, Team Captain, finished 1st, winning 5 out of 7 races in the series, with Nathan Tang winning another race. The 420 boys also sailed a good regatta, with pair Jordan Ng and Ernest Tan winning 6 out of 7 races in the series to finish 1st with a perfect score of 6 points.
The girls were eager to build on the strong momentum established by the boys, and were raring to go on the third day. However, with inclement weather conditions ranging from no wind to storms and lightning warnings, races had to be postponed hour after hour. With their adrenaline already pumping, as time passed, the girls’ anticipation grew, yet they were unable to set sail and it was only at 4pm that it was announced that all races for the day were cancelled.
Sailing resumed on the last day in strong wind conditions, testing the girls’ ability to keep a clear head while being tested physically. With all the stakes pinned on one single day of racing, it was a grueling test of nerve and strategy but one which the girls passed with flying colours. All 4 Laser girls finished well, in the top 9. Captain Natasha Yokoyama started off well, winning the first race and eventually finishing 2nd overall. In the 420 category, Ko Jia Yun and Lee Shu Xian finished as champions with a perfect score, winning all 4 races in the series, and Najwa Jumali and Pamela Goh also got onto the podium with a strong 3rd place finish.
It was sweet victory for RI, having retained all its titles as the defending champion, with the B and C division boys winning as well. And when they set sail again next year, they’ll be doing their best as always to keep the Raffles colours flying high, in the wind.
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