After months of preparation and training the site and participants are ready for some fierce on the water competition during the XXI SEA Games - Sailing events at Admiral Marina, Port Dickson. As Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the South East Asian nations sports men and women prepare for battle on specially constructed track and fields around Malaysia the sailors down in Port Dickson are rejoicing for being included as a sport in the games this time around and enjoying the splendid new dinghy sailing facilities that have finally come together and are being provided by the organising authorities down at the Malacca Straits coastal resort city.
It is a first in many ways. As the biggest International sailing event held in Olympic classes that the Malaysian Yachting Association has ever hosted and the first time some of these sailors have the opportunity to measure up and pit their skills against each other in home waters. Many have done well at European and World class championships held recently including representing their country at the Sydney Olympics. So its a mixture of talent and experience verses the up and coming locally trained champions who take great delight and national pride in beating each other.
It is also a win for the Australian Yachting Federation's training scheme as most of the foreign coaches employed by the local national authorities over the past 6 months are from Australia including Mike Fletcher helping Singapore who probably wrote the original training syllabus.
Although only six of the 10 SEA nations are capable of fielding a representative sailing team, 13 gold medals in all are up for grabs competing in 7 different off the beach classes. The size of the regatta with about 100 sailors may be small by International standards or akin to a week long championship held each year at any large sailing club in the developed world. But in growing Asia the size of a regatta fleet is not always considered important the overall success will be measured by the quality of sportsmanship and skills the participants display during the competition.
Expect to see some great racing when Sydney Olympians Kevin Lim from Malaysia and Thailand's Veerasit Puangnak meet again in the men's Laser class. Singapore's Roy Tay Junhao and crew sailing a 420 recently took the Silver medal at the World Youth titles and Malaysian optimist sailor Abdul Rahim who eventually finished third at the World championships in China are out to prove their victories in light conditions where no fluke. The Indonesian's have sent almost a full contingent of racers despite their ailing economy and are always a threat during any regatta along with the Philippine sailors as these islanders posses a natural ability to find and harness natures forces as Oka the world famous Balinese wind surfer has shown on many occasions.