The upcoming athletes enrolled on the programme will have access to the world's top racing events that will also provide the most intense test of a sailor's character. One of the tours, the WMRT, is seen as the world's toughest match racing series within in the ISAF calendar, culminating in December at the Monsoon Cup in Kuala Terengganu, where the ISAF Match Racing World Champion is crowned, after nine months of racing.
This new professional sailing programme for Malaysia is of particular importance for talented sailors looking to move into more professional and challenging yacht racing disciplines. Currently, the country supports a healthy following of sailors in the Optimist, Laser and 470 dinghy classes. Dinghy sailors are regular competitors with support of the Malaysian Yachting Association in the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympic Games.
However, there is a big void of talent when it comes to the next level - racing in keel boats and on the professional world circuits - when the sailors reach their mid 20's and exit the dinghy class programmes. Dato' Shabery identified that this situation is due to the lack of a planned development route that sailors could follow and move up to the professional global circuit.
The Sports Industry Division of the Malaysian Youth and Sports Ministry is to be commended for bringing forth the idea that a dynamic programme is needed, where amateur sailors will receive high level coaching. Dato' Shabery said, "currently Malaysia is focusing on the medal sports but I would like to one day, see our athletes taking part in professional sailing events such as the ISAF World Match Racing Tour and possibly the America's Cup".
Dato' Shabery informed the media at a press conference that the programme will involve an initial four-year plan which will see the participation of 10 athletes. This programme will run closely with the organisers of the Monsoon Cup, the final event of the WMRT.
"We will work closely with the organisers of the Monsoon Cup as they have the expertise to train and provide opportunities to our sailors. They are delighted to support the programme as it fits in nicely with their own development work which they have been carrying out for the past several years," he said.