By Terrence Voon
SINGAPORE’s hard luck at the Optimist World Championships has continued for the second year running.
Youngsters Russell Kan, Darren Choy, Luke Tan and Rachel Lee settled for second place in the team event, after losing 1-2 to Puerto Rico in the final.
Singapore’s Optimist sailors also finished with a silver medal at last year’s edition in Italy.
Ironically, they had beaten Puerto Rico en route to the best-of-three races final at the Turkish resort of Cesme yesterday. Along the way, they also saw off Italy, Sweden and sailing powerhouses New Zealand.
But Puerto Rico returned to haunt them, coming through the losers’ pool to qualify for the gold-medal showdown.
Under blustery winds that hit a high of 20 knots, the Singaporeans lost the first race. But they mastered the conditions in the second race to force a sail-off.
In the third and final race, the Singapore quartet finished third, fourth, fifth and seventh, scoring 19 points. But it was not enough to overhaul Puerto Rico (17 points), who won by virtue of scoring fewer points.
‘It’s heart-wrenching to lose it this way,’ said a disappointed team manager Jefri Ismail. “But unlike last year, we didn’t make any individual errors. Puerto Rico were just too good, and we should be proud of what we have achieved.’
SingaporeSailing president Low Teo Ping agreed that the young sailors should not be too disheartened by their second-place showing.
He said: ‘We have reached the team final for the fifth year in a row now. This augurs well for our future Olympic squads and shows that our junior development programme is operating at a world-class level.’
Russell will have a second shot at winning a medal when the fleet event resumes tomorrow. The 15-year-old is currently seventh out of 250 sailors.