Feel the sun blazing down your neck? Check. Feel the splash of water streaking down your body? Check. Feel the winds flowing through your hair? Check.
Sounds like a standard trip to the beach, a holiday even, the soft sand giving way to the quiet splashing of the waves along the seashore. When you think of Sailing, forget the big yachts that you see rich people flaunt at One° 15 or the 40-foot Catamarans Hollywood likes to advertise for swift getaways with their significant others. Long story short, we are not that type of CCA.
As our dear Coach Hu puts it, “Are you going on a holiday?” The apparent answer is no, we’re not.
We strive for excellence, both on and off the water. A mainstay in RI’s gold medal hauls year on year, we strive to build on our successes created by our seniors, going further, pushing harder, and ultimately, sailing faster. As defending champions for the 8th year running, we constantly aim for progress every year, building on our strengths and working on our weaknesses.
Sailing is a sport like no other. We fight in the sun, and we fight in the rain, except during Cat 1 storms. We don’t run on tracks, we don’t play in indoor courts, and we don’t swim in pools; we face the true elements of Mother Nature every single time we set sail. Sailing is the true test of one’s limits. You never know when a 20-knot gust is going to hit, or when the wind is going to shift to another direction. We learn to be versatile, adapting to different challenges presented to us, and change accordingly to the weather conditions.
The more experienced sailors will tell you: “Sailing is like a game of chess. Except on water.” and it does hold merit. Tactically speaking, it will teach sailors to be analytic and precise in their actions, where multiple variables have to be taken into account to pull off the “perfect” race. It teaches us to be resilient, even in the face of defeat, where success is measured based on small consistent progress rather than a big spike. Sailing reinforces these important values that all sportsmen should possess, on and off the playing field.
I like to think of ourselves as the underdogs of Raffles. Rafflesians never ever see us training, yet we bring back the championship trophy year after year, and so some of them must be thinking: What kind of sport is this, getting free gold medals every year? Must be a piece of cake. The truth is Rafflesians don’t see us training three times a week, twice in the open sea at the National Sailing Centre, and once at the indoor volleyball court in school (doing physical fitness training). We work hard behind the scenes, unknown to everyone, and do our very best to do our school proud every April during the annual Inter-Schools Championships. We don’t do what we do for recognition, and we don’t do what we do to impress others. (I mean, we don’t even get match support right.) We do it for the passion for the sport, and for the pride of the Green Black White.
At the end of the day, I must say we really enjoy what we do. While most students would sleep in on a beautiful Saturday morning, we would rather be baking in the sun and being splashed by saltwater. While the beach may seem like a place for cycling and picnics, we see it as our home. A place where memories are being born, and friendships are being made.
A game of chess involves careful analysis and planning. ODAC expeditions involve survival skills in natural elements. Dragonboating pushes your body to its limits, physically and mentally. We are all of these combined, and more. We are: Raffles Sailing.