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8 July 2005, 01:35 pm
Sailing In Schools
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Singapore Sailing News

A record 430 sailors competed in the National Inter-schools Sailing Championships 2005 - 20 per cent more than in last year's competition. The record turnout is testament to Singapore's proficiency in promoting and organizing the sport, something ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE) was quick to notice when he flagged off the launch of sailboats at the National Sailing Centre at the East Coast on Tuesday.
'Sailing should be like this in all countries,' he said. 'Here in Singapore, the schools work closely with the local sailing federation to provide boats and coaches for the children. Sweden has much to learn from you. The schools back home do not enjoy such a tight relationship. For us, it's usually a club-level activity.'

Teo Ping LOW, president of SingaporeSailing, agreed with the assessment.

'Sailing is very school driven. In fact, 90 per cent of our national sailors are under 20. We actually go down to schools to talk to the principals. This has helped to increase the popularity of the sport and we currently have about 40 schools which have taken up sailing.'

Youth sailing in Singapore is going through a particular bright spell at the moment. The Singapore team at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship taking place from 14-23 July in Busan, Korea is part of the strongest Asian challenge yet at the event. Singapore are only one of two Asian nations to have won a medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds, and the only nation to have won a medal in a sailing, as opposed to windsurfing, event.

Meanwhile Singapore's 14 year old ASEAN Optimist Champion, Griselda KHNG also was given the honour of presenting IOC President Jacques ROGGE (BEL) with the envelope containing the results of the winning city to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Windsurfing, a successful discipline for many Asian nations, might also get a much needed shot in the arm if SingaporeSailing uses the same school driven formula to promote it.

The number of windsurfing enthusiasts has dwindled, from 3,000 at the sport's peak in the early 1990s to only 300 today.

'We are trying to encourage windsurfing by going through the schools,' said Jason LIM, vice-president of sailing.

'We have some primary schoolchildren who windsurf and there are some good signs - The Singapore Sports School has already said yes to taking in windsurfers.'

PETERSSON attended the opening of the National Inter-schools Sailing Championships 2005 on Tuesday as part of a busy trip to Singapore, where he attended the 117th IOC Session and signed the final contract for the new windsurfing Olympic class, the Neil Pryde RS:X.

Joyce Tan (As Amended By ISAF)
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