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33rd SIM Singapore Open Asian Windsurfing Championship

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Unpredictable weather proved to be the main challenge at this year's Singapore Open Asian Windsurfing Championship. (Photo by VoxSports)

The five-day windsurfing extravaganza, Singapore Open Asian Windsurfing Championship (SOAWC), made waves on our shores on 22 January, featuring 136 participants, including those from around the region, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.

Windsurfers from India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, Argentina and Russia also took part in the championship in addition to the local participants.

As the event name suggests, it was held in conjunction with SIM Global Education as the main sponsor. Representatives from four universities - Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University and Singapore Institute of Management - also participated in the tournament.

Held at the National Sailing Centre in East Coast Park, the 33rd edition of the prestigious tournament also acted as a stepping stone for Youth Olympic Games (YOG) hopefuls, as Under-17 Techno 293 class participants had the chance to battle it out for a spot in this year’s YOG in Nanjing, China.

One such hopeful who emerged from the competition victorious was Singaporean Ynez Lim. A 2013 SEA Games Silver Medalist, the 16-year-old finished in third place in the YOG continental qualifier under the Techno 293 Youth Girl category, snagging a qualifying place for Singapore.

She had earned her podium finish with 46 points, with Thailand’s Duangkamon Phongern and Hong Kong’s Choi Wing Chi taking home the gold and silver medals with 16 and 28 points respectively.

Another local windsurfer who was aiming for a shot at this year’s YOG through the SOAWC was 16-year-old Wallace Gan, who had clinched a bronze medal at last year’s SEA Games in Myanmar. However, Wallace finished in overall 10th place despite fighting hard in the SOAWC boys’ windsurfing event. The youth boys’ division had a strength of 26. 

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Leonard Ong finished third in the RS:X Men category, behind Thailand’s Ek Boonsawad and Taipei’s Chang Hao, who clinched the title of champion and runner-up respectively.

Chua Hsin Ee, member of the organising committee of this year’s edition of the tournament, said: “We have not had much luck with the wind in the past few years of the Singapore Open, so we were initially quite worried about how we were going to run a good race this year... especially since we were hosting the YOG Continental Qualifiers. Fortunately, the wind co-operated and we had near-perfect wind conditions, making this one of the most successful editions of the event we have had."

“And having Singapore secure a spot in the YOG Girls event was an icing on the cake!" he added, commenting on Ynez’s win.

In a pre-event interview, National windsurfer Audrey Yong, who had won a bronze medal in the Techno 293 category in the first YOG in 2010, shared similar opinions on the local wind conditions: “Because Singapore is a tropical country, our weather here is actually pretty unpredictable, so for us to train in this kind of wind is a bit difficult.” 

But she also added that the “constant wind” meant that windsurfers here do not get “constant conditions”, “so it actually helps us to experience more kinds of conditions”.

Despite the tricky monsoon winds, the participants at the 33rd SOAWC seemed to get a hang of the conditions, making this year’s edition the best thus far.

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