By Faith Ning Koy (Captain) and Keenan Cheung (Vice-Captain)
When you think of sailing, what comes to mind? Popeye the Sailor Man, or Pirates of the Caribbean? Take this mental image of a sailboat, shrink it and paint the boat white; now you’ve got yourself picturing a modern sailboat! We want to put it out there — sailing is not the same as canoeing or dragon-boating, contrary to popular belief. Performing the rowing action and claiming that it is sailing in front of a sailor is a foolproof way of rocking the boat!
So, how do you even sail? Good question! In fact, if we had to explain it fully, 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. 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 out until it’s set just right to get the boat moving at the maximum speed possible.
There are many, many boat classes, or types, but the one that our CCA specialises in is the Laser Radial, a single-handed boat. In a regatta (a ranked competition made up of many races), one race typically takes 50 minutes to complete. There are double-handed boat classes too, such as the 29er, which our Captain, Faith, sails and can attest to how fun sailing with a partner is!
Sailing is unique in that it is the only sport directly controlled by the weather, seeing as sailboats require wind to move (we truly fight in the sun and fight in the rain). Sailors need to keep their physical fitness on point. Hiking (especially when the wind is strong) is necessary as flattening the boat prevents it from slipping sideways and losing ground. Sailing upwind for around 30 minutes while fully hiking engages the legs and core, while consistent tightening and releasing of ropes requires good arm strength. Talk about a full-body workout!
Furthermore, strategic thinking is crucial in making a good sailor. Similar to how Jack Sparrow charts his course through the Seven Seas, we also take into consideration many ever-changing elements such as water current and pressure spots, where the wind is stronger, so that we can complete the course as swiftly as possible.
We have three training sessions every week! Monday’s session is physical training and games, where we work out and have fun after school. If you walk past Cages around 5-6pm, you will most likely hear music blasting from our JBL speaker :) On Wednesdays and Saturdays, we head down to the National Sailing Centre at ECP for water training, where we brush up on skills, and do practice races. We are a fun and friendly bunch, so every training session is filled with laughter!
National School Games are held annually around April, so training becomes more intense as we gear up for the competition, to keep up RI’s streak of excellence. Fun fact: the challenge trophy has been in our possession since 2011!
Other than NSGs, many of us also represent Singapore, travelling abroad with the national team to compete in major international regattas, such as Asian Sailing Championships 2022, the 2022 Youth Sailing World Championships, and the 2022 ILCA 6 Youth World Championship! These competitions often happen during the school term, hence the ability to juggle sailing and school work is crucial. Nonetheless, the experiences we have overseas are always amazing and we would be more than willing to share them with anyone who is curious!
MEET THE TEAM!
How do you identify a sailor? You may recognise us by our flashy CCA jacket, the stunning gold Gryphon logo and the unique custom tape on the sleeves catching your eyes. Another way to spot a sailor is by their distinct sunglasses’ tan line that may resemble the eye rings of a panda, or unusually tanned wrists or hands. But the most foolproof method is a vibe check. Sailors are independent yet team-orientated, serious and yet some of the most fun people you will ever meet. In other words, we are awesome!
Well, what can you look forward to in 2023?
National School Games 2023
This is the annual competition we prepare all year for. Sailors from different schools in Singapore fight it out to bring glory to their school’s name! They will happen around April, and though ECP is quite far away from school, we would love for fellow Rafflesians to come down and spectate our races!
Learn To Sail 2023
Thinking about joining Sailing? Learn To Sail is an activity catered to any Year 5 student curious about what our sport is about and interested in joining the amazing RI sailing community! More information about this event will be shared with you at the start of 2023, so keep a lookout for it!
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, as you are in for an exciting ride!