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Friday, May 30, 2008

Training Sabah's Sailing Athletes

Sailing has become an important sports. It was dominated by Sabah
sailors. They were systematically trained by Leonard and Christopher
Chin of the Kota Kinabalu Yacht Club, because KYC was humiliated by
sailors from Sarawak.

It was about 1995 and two of my children were part of his project.
Unfortunately we left for Sandakan at about that time. My children
that were still at kindergarten at that time, managed to learn for a
few days only.

KYC started dominating Optimist sailing in the Interport Regattas that
Sailors in Borneo competed with.

Not satisfied with the results so far, Leonard expanded the sailing
interest to Sandakan and Tawau Yacht Clubs. Three of my children went
for the training conducted by Leonard Chin himself, along with the
children of my school mates, Mabel and Karin Lim. I frequently see him
playing badminton at school or halls around Sandakan.

During the first training sessions, parents came along and helped
sailors from KYC handle boats and children. I remember clearly Mabel
Lim's enthusiasm in sailing. My daughter, being older and more
experienced, having been exposed to Optimist sailing early on, learned
quickly and helped train the other young sailors.

Unfortunately, I moved to Kota Kinabalu in 2001 again, and this time,
three of my children and some children from SYC competed at KYC and
Magellan Sutera Harbour. My family stayed at the 5 star Sutera Harbour
Resort using my transfer allowance, while watching my children

None of them won but it was a good experience for my children because
they sail in the ocean in rough sea from Tanjung Aru Beach to the
Sutera Harbour Marina. Many boats capsize. My youngest son was not
allowed to sail but managed to sail in the trials.

Leornard came up with the Novice championships for beginners in
Optimist. My daughter won one event but being almost 14 years old, I
realised that she will not be able to achieve world class standard. My
sons, were not interested partly because their performances were not

Leonard Chin predicted that SYC will produce champion optimist sailors
because of the unpredictable and shifting winds and currents at
Sandakan Bay. He is proven correct because by 2007, SYC had produced
champions in the form of Mabel and Karin Lims, and I'm sure some other

I've video recorded the training sessions of my two youngest children
and had uploaded them to youtube.

You should notice how calm the sea was despite an approaching storm so
sailors can train almost any time. This is unlike at Tanjung Aru
Beach, where KYC sailors train, the venue for the first training
sessions for my children. Many sessions were cancelled because waves
were too strong for optimist boats.

Sailing is a good sport and pastime. It is not demanding like
badminton. It requres lots of brain power instead of physical power.
It allows us to enjoy the beauty of Sabah which is its protected seas
that is full with life.

THE absence of Doha Asian Games winner Rufina Tan and the presence of
a plethora of national sailors at the Malaysia Games poses a
formidable challenge to a young Sabah sailing team hoping to repeat
their three-gold haul of 2006.
Rufina opted to skip the Malaysia Games in Terengganu having
sacrificed her studies in the lead up to the 2006 Doha Asian Games,
where she won gold in the optimist, thus forcing her to play catch up
with her schoolwork.

Added to that, Sabah's three gold medals in the last Games in Kedah
all came in the optimist categories, for which their sailors are now

Josephine Tan and Mabel Lim who finished 1-2 in the girls' optimist in
Kedah have graduated to the International 420 but face an uphill
struggle against the sister combination from Kedah of Siti
Noorbaidurah and Khairunnisa Mohd Afendy, who start as favourites.

Similarly Sabah's boys' optimist champion of 2006, Adrian Brian Chang,
has moved up to the laser radial where another of Kedah's Mohd Afendy
siblings, Khairulnizam, is the favourite.
"Our sailors who won in 2006 are all sailing in different classes this
time so it is very difficult to assess their chances," said Sabah team
manager Shoon Yun Chin yesterday in a telephone interview from Setiu,
where the sailing events will be held from Tuesday.

"The sailing fleet is also a lot stronger than the last time with the
national sailors all competing here.

"We are hopeful of giving our best and are looking at medals of any

In Rufina's absence, Perak's Nurul Elia Anuar, the Asian Games bronze
medallist in the women's laser 4.7, is the main attraction in Setiu
when she takes to the sea in the laser radial event.

Seven gold medals are on offer in sailing in the men's and women's
optimist, laser radial and International 420 and the mixed team
optimist event.

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