Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New SingaporeSailing president to expand sport's prowess

SINGAPORE : SingaporeSailing tasted more international success on Sunday, this time at the prestigious Kieler Woche Regatta in Germany where national sailors Teo Wee Chin and Justin Wong won the 28-fleet men's Hobie 16 class, and Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng the 194-fleet boys' 420 class.

Preparing for this year's Asian Games in Guangzhou will be another key priority.

New SingaporeSailing president Benedict Tan, who succeeded Low Teo Ping as the new president, at the annual general meeting at the National Sailing Centre on Monday night, said continuing an all-rounded approach towards the sport's development here is necessary.

"We've to consolidate areas we're strong in, which means the base of our pyramid system... (but) I also want to see a more holistic development," Dr Tan, 42, told MediaCorp.

Presently head of the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre and Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Dr Tan will lead an eight-strong executive committee - six of whom are returning members.

The exco will also feature a new face in Rupert Ong, one of three vice-presidents, who is currently an associate director at PKWA Law Practice LLC and a coach at the SAF Yacht Club.

To get feedback, the new team will conduct focus group discussions with various stakeholders - including coaches, parents and sailors - next month.

Dr Tan, a former national sailor and 1994 Asian Games gold medallist (Laser), said catamaran, keelboat and windsurfing have lagged behind in recent years and sub-committees for them will be set up and headed by sailors with expertise in these events.

"We want to give that ownership back to them," said Dr Tan. "With their passion and vested interest, it can bring about a resurgence."

He also stressed the importance of continuity and building on his predecessor work.

During that time, SingaporeSailing became one of the Republic's top national sports associations (NSA), producing 14 world champions. Singapore also became the top sailing nation at the 2006 Asian Games, with five gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

The association also established a sailing infrastructure and built up its S$2.35 million reserves.

"It has been 12 glorious years... we've definitely left a footprint for sailing in Singapore," said Mr Low. "We have built a foundation for the sport to progress, and it has created a very sustainable growth pathway for the sport's future."

For the upcoming 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou from November 12 to 27, expectations are high for a repeat performance of four years' ago.

But with China winning five golds at the recent Asian Sailing Championship in Shanwei - the test event for the Asian Games sailing competition - and with classes like the Laser 4.7 not featuring this time, Dr Tan voiced caution.

"At the Asian Sailing Championship, we came back with two gold medals," he said.

"(For the Asian Games), we hope to win more than that, but we're facing a tough challenge. China, as hosts, will be solid and have homeground advantage. But our sailors are fighters and we'll give (our) best shot."

- CNA/al
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