Wai-man sails into sister's spotlight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 January, 2003, 12:00am

Teenage star Chan Wai-man is ready to step out of sister Wai-kei's shadow after beating Hong Kong's number two windsurfer for the first time at the Singapore Open this week. 'I was happy to win the title and show I've closed the gap with my sister,' said Wai-man, 18.

The Chan siblings have been hailed as successors to Olympic heroine Lee Lai-shan after winning a bronze medal each at the World Junior Championships in different years.

Wai-kei, 21, lived up to her number-two billing by winning Hong Kong an Olympic ticket in the absence of San San, who has been recovering from a recurring abdominal problem, at last month's World Championships in Thailand.

And Wai-man showed she wasn't far behind. Wai-man, who beat Wai-kei by three points in the tiny six-strong women's fleet, said: 'My win in Singapore was nice because I also won HK$2,000 in prize-money. Windsurfing events didn't usually offer prize-money and it's quite a lot for a youngster like me.'

But Wai-man admitted she wasn't as complete an all-round sailor as her sister and she won the Singapore event with a little help from the conditions.

'The winds suited me because it was neither shifty nor gusty. The winds were light, too. I just grabbed the opportunities to take the leads in the up-wind leg and I managed to hold off challenges from her, thanks to the relatively short course. I still need to improve a lot on reading what the winds are doing.'

Wai-kei, a civil engineering student at Hong Kong University, refused to use the pressure of exams as an excuse. 'I lost to her mainly because she raced well, not because of my inadequate training. We'll both benefit from the healthy rivalry. I don't see her improvement as a threat to me.'

Wai-man will be looking to maintain her edge over Wai-kei at next week's Sail Melbourne regatta. Hong Kong's four-strong squad includes male sailors Cheng Kwok-fai and Yu Wing-ho.

San San, who has undergone a battery of tests to pinpoint her problems that are related to her abdominal muscles and surrounding nerves, is still uncertain when she will be back in action.