Young sailors rule the waves

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am

South Island School and Hong Kong Sea School claimed top honours at the 2011 Inter-school Sailing Festival held over the weekend. More than 140 students took part in the competition which was divided into two categories - Feva and Q'Ba.

Young sailors competed in more than 200 heats off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club to decide the top four teams in each division.

Every race featured two teams, each with three boats.

South Island were crowned champions in the Feva division, claiming their first title in seven years.

'We last won a title in 2003 and we were nervous in the final races, as our positions will affect our final standings,' said Year Nine student Pascal Boisvert.

Jim Green, the team's youngest sailor aged 11, said their tactics were good. 'We decided to start from the right side because it was the most effective way to make use of the wind,' said Jim.

But he struggled in rough weather. 'I am not tall enough to lean out of the boat to maintain its balance [during strong winds] so my partner had to do it alone,' said Jim.

It was a special event for South Island who had two pairs of siblings on board. They were Sophie Tulloch and Isabel Tulloch and Arnaud Gillard and Aymeric Gillard.

Sophie and Arnaud said they had an unwritten rule that siblings should not team up. 'We believe sailing with our elder sister or brother is not good. We split up because we may have communication problems,' they said. But there was good communication among the South Island boats. 'We would shout out loud and notify each other where our rivals are. The noise may also distract our rivals,' laughed Isabel.

Aymeric added: 'The trickiest part of the race is that it's not the result of one boat that determines the winner ... it's about the performance of three boats.'

The weather conditions over the two days were vastly different. There were strong winds on the first day and many boats flipped over, while the sea was much calmer on Sunday. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Sea School, winners of four Feva titles, claimed their first victory in the Q'Ba category.

'I have competed in this tournament twice, winning once and losing once. I was absent last year when we came second. Today we were determined to win a title,' said Form Four student, Wan Chi-wai.

Another Form Four sailor, Lau Ka-wing, said the team has bigger ambitions. 'We will continue to practise as we want to represent Hong Kong at next year's Asian Sailing Championships,' said Ka-wing.

Richard Knight, a spokesman for the competition, said this year's event was a success. 'Our festival is the largest sailing event for [secondary] students. I was impressed by the participation this year and we are aiming to attract more local schools in future,' said Knight. 'Since sailing is not in their PE curriculum, I hope this annual competition will persuade schools to form a team and let their students practise at any yacht club in Hong Kong.'

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