The 36th Singapore Open Windsurfing Championships featured a few classes but it was the RS One Class that dominated with 42 windsurfers competing in that class - 25 men, 12 women and 5 'grandmasters'.
These windsurfers hailed from 10 countries - Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Taipei, Singapore, India, Myanmar and Cambodia - and put their skills to test over four days. Light and shifty winds prevailed most of the time in a South-westerly direction in the absence of the much-anticipated NE monsoon. This, coupled with a strong current at times, made for tricky sailing.
Constant wind changes tested the windsurfers' keen observation and called for some guesswork as well. A storm and planing conditions with winds speeds of 15 to 18 knots finally came through on the last day providing windsurfers a chance to show if they were all-weather seamen!
Singapore RS One windsurfer, Ruth Mow, noted that the level of competition had levelled up this year with stiff competition from various countries. This was to be expected with the presence of seasoned windsurfers from Thailand such as Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, Siriporn Kaewduang Ngam, and eventual Women's RS One winner as well as SEA Games and Asian Games medallists such as Navin Singsart and Natthphong Phonoppharat who were crowned Men's champion and runner up in the event.
Powerhouse Hong Kong made its presence on the podium with a clean sweep of Gold in the Espoir category; once-crowned Asian Champion Cheng Ho Yin won honours and first place as did Sandy Choi, both having raced for many years and are on the brink of entering the senior and elite ranks of their national team.
Newcomers, Myanmar and Cambodia, also made a foray into the scene. The two fourteen-year old Cambodians, sailing the RS One, picked up the sport of windsurfing barely months before and made a brave adventure into the Singapore Open. It is heartening to see the sport growing in Cambodia and we hope to see many more windsurfers from these countries.
Local club and school windsurfing coach as well as participant, Melvin Huang, credits the Singapore Open for being a "good event" as it gathered some of the top windsurfers from the region together and gave all participants the chance to compete and assess where they stand in relation to the rest.
The organisers - the Windsurfing Association of Singapore as well as the Singapore Sailing Federation - hope to continue this event in the years to come and see the sport grow from strength to strength!
Report by Naomi Tan
Credit Photos by Low Chwee Hock