CCA Previews ’22: Sailing

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By Faith Hailey Toh (22S06R), Captain, Manikanda Durairaj Prathistta (22S06L), Vice-Captain, Dylan Ng Yao Xuan (22S03Q), Vice-Captain

Have you ever wondered how to pick out a Raffles sailor in a crowd? This task may prove to be harder than finding a needle in a haystack, as only approximately 0.583% of the RI population is sailors. 

But don’t worry, we’ll let you in on some tips. You may recognise a sailor by their flashy CCA jacket, the stunning gold gryphon logo and the unique custom tape on the sleeves striking your eyes. (Shoutout to our talented designer Kyle!) Another way to spot a sailor is by their distinct sunglasses tan line that may resemble the eye rings of a panda. But the most foolproof method is to sense their aura. Sailors are independent yet team-orientated, serious and yet some of the most fun people you will ever meet.

This year’s Y5 and Y6 sailors posing with our sail!

But what exactly is sailing? Some of you may be thinking: “I know! Sailing is all about sitting on luxurious yachts, floating in the sea, sipping champagne in floral T-shirts and bermuda shorts!” Unfortunately, you are wrong. Sailing is a physically and mentally demanding sport that requires a high level of fitness, intelligence and skill. 

So, how do you even sail? Good question! In fact, if we had to explain it fully to you, it would probably take up at least 1 term’s worth of lectures and tutorials. But to put it concisely, here’s what it’s like: We have a sail that catches wind, allowing the boat to move. (Our boats have no engines, by the way) Then there’s the rudder, a piece of fibreglass at the back of the boat that steers it in the direction we want. And finally, we have ropes all over the boat to tighten and ease until it’s set just right to get the boat moving at the maximum speed possible.    

Here’s a picture of the smallest and most basic boat that most of us started sailing with: the Optimist! (photograph taken pre-Covid)

“That’s all? That sounds much easier than I thought it would be!” While on the surface, sailing may seem like a piece of cake, many sailors are convinced that sailing is the hardest sport in the world. Why? If you sail, there’s no need for a gym membership! Sailing is more physically-draining than it looks. Hiking burns the core and thighs, pumping uses the arms and difficult manoeuvres require a masterful balance of agility and strength. Sounds like a full body workout, right? 

Our 29er sailors hard at work! *Picture taken pre-Covid.

Not only that, but sailing works the brain as well. Every sailor gets the same equipment and we have to find a way to reach the finish line faster than the rest. So we have to constantly make decisions and strategise in relation to other boats. In sailing, nothing is constant. (Thanks a lot, Mother Nature…) Achieving a good result in a race means having to juggle multiple changing factors like wind direction, wind strength and currents to plan the fastest course to sail.

You may now be thinking: How on earth do you enjoy this sport? Well, many of us consider sailing to be the highlight of our JC lives. As a CCA, we train arduously 3 times a week. We have water training on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings at East Coast Park, where we hold races and hone our skills. We also have land training on Mondays after school, where we do some PT and then play a variety of team-building games and sports. (You’d be surprised at our team’s skills in tchoukball…) After Monday sessions, we relieve stress and relish each other’s company over dinner. If you’re wondering where we frequent, it’s Bosch! 

Suffering together during PT sessions! #nopainnogain

Most importantly, we are a tight-knit community of like-minded individuals, driven by our passion for the sport. Our CCA sessions are full of laughter and every training is memorable. While we know how to have fun, don’t be mistaken, when it’s time to train, we give it our all! Here are some non-negotiables about our CCA: take care of equipment, maintain fitness level and treat every training session seriously. 

Feeling like you want a change from time to time? Offering over 40 classes of boats globally (with about 10-15 available in Singapore), sailing is a sport you can never get bored of. Sailing also opens up new ways to travel and see the world. With most of our sailors being part of the national team, RI sailing has travelled all around the globe. We have left our legacy behind in innumerable countries such as Sri Lanka, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Spain and New Caledonia, just to name a few. Sailing in various countries under unpredictable conditions has ingrained the crucial skill of versatility into us, making us feel prepared to charge head on to face any challenge at hand. 

Are you convinced that sailing is one of the best CCAs to join? If you are, we encourage you to join us! But do note that some prior experience is needed and there are CCA trials to go through before getting into the CCA. 

Finally, as our team motto goes, ‘kai xin jiu hao’ (translated as: ‘happy can already’). The most important aspect of sailing… is having fun! So hoist your sails and sheet in the mainsheet. You are in for an exciting ride!

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