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Sailing Student-Athlete Huddle

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On the 1st of June 2018, the National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) held a Student-Athlete Huddle for youth sailors to find out more about sailing at the tertiary level, as well as other ways to stay involved in the sport.

The sailors gathered at the NYSI Satellite@Kallang to listen to a panel, which consisted of university students and a race official, share about their sailing and volunteering experience.

The objective of the Huddle was to encourage these sailors, aged between 15 to 18, to remain actively involved in the sport - even at the tertiary level - by providing them greater insight into the various opportunities for competition, volunteering and giving back to the community.

“The talk was helpful as the speakers were able to give many insights and tips on university life as a sailor, which would be helpful in helping me decide on my future in terms of academics and sailing,” said Vicke Young, a Secondary 4 student and sailor in the Nacra 15 National Training Squad.

The speakers kicked off the Huddle by sharing their personal experiences in school.

This allowed the youth sailors to have a better idea of what they can expect should they choose to enter university. Topics, such as hall life, residential colleges, internships and exchange programmes were covered.

One of the main differences between university and junior college, according to the speakers, is that university students have to take a greater ownership of their learning and their personal life. This includes selecting what they want to study and planning their own class timetables and activities.

The youth sailors learnt that sailing at tertiary level is more of a team sport as they compete in multi-handed boats.

“At the tertiary level, we usually sail the SB20 or J24. They’re big boats that are sailed by 4-5 people, so there’s a lot of teamwork and communication involved,” shared Cheryl Lim, a member of the NUS Sailing Varsity Team.

Koh Ling Ying, who hails from the SMU Sailing team, added: “There are more roles on the boat. As a single-handed sailor, you could be used to controlling the rudder and the mainsail at the same time, but when you sail in university you don’t get to do both. You need to communicate a lot, for example you’ll need to ask your teammates for more power in the sail.”

Cheryl also pointed out that there are a good number of students who, like herself, join the Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) without any prior sailing experience. This means that the more experienced sailors are often tasked with teaching their teammates the ropes.

“When you teach others, you learn more yourself. Sometimes, your teammates will ask you basic questions and you’ll realise you don’t have the answer to it because it may be something that comes to you naturally but you may have forgotten the theory behind it,” explained Ling Ying.

Jonathan Yeo, an Asian Games Bronze medalist and a member of the NUS Sailing Varsity Team, also noted that the most meaningful thing about sailing at university is being able to share the sport with newbies. He also mentioned how experienced sailors should work to build the sport at the tertiary level.

Mervyn Kwok, who has volunteered as a race official for the past 10 years, spoke of how he stayed involved in the sport over the years. He started out by helping set the course and taking down finishing positions, but rose up the ranks over the years and now leads the management of regattas.

The speakers’ passion for sailing was what struck James Koh, a Laser 4.7 sailor who is currently in his first year of junior college. “Although the students came from different universities and had different sailing backgrounds, they all shared the same love and passion for the sport, which is also what I hope to maintain not only in university but for life,” he shared.