Rough waters: Tse Sui-lun to quit full-time sailing citing disillusionment with local federation

Talented 20-year-old plans to stand down because he was not included in a single competition in Langkawi but coaches say he should stay and focus on his long term plans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 February, 2016, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 February, 2016, 9:22pm

Talented sailor Tse Sui-lun is set to quit the Hong Kong Sports Institute, citing disillusionment with the sailing federation.

Tse, 20, who won a silver medal with his partner, Chik Ho-yin, in the 420 class [a small dinghy used mainly by under-19 sailors] at the Asian Championships last year and helped the sport get elite status at the Sports Institute, said a decision by the governing body to exclude him from racing in the Asaf Cup in Langkawi, Malaysia, last month was unfair. He said he would end his association with the institute on Tuesday.

There were times that I wanted to quit and find a stable job, but my love for the sport made me stay
Tse Sui-lun

“I was first told by [Hong Kong Sailing Federation coaching director] Richard Knight that I could not go because my partner was not available in December. I told him I had a scratch partner and still wanted to go,” said Tse, who now sails in the 470 class.

“A month later, Knight gave me another reason: the team didn’t have a budget to send me there. Right before the application deadline, Knight told me it was because a new coach just arrived and I would do better to stay in Hong Kong.

“I think these were all excuses just so they didn’t have to send us. The competition has long been on my competition plan. This is a crucial race for me as this would be the last chance to get good results to get a higher amount of scholarship in the next financial year.”

Tse said he is from a single-parent family and the monthly scholarship of HK$9,520 barely covered his own expenses and transport costs.

READ: Cash-strapped HK sailors ready to quit

“There were times when I wanted to quit and find a stable job, but my love for the sport made me stay. I am now at breaking point,” said Tse, who learned to sail through the Hong Kong Sea School, a secondary school for underprivileged children.

“I have lost trust in the federation. They tend to allocate more resources to members representing yacht clubs and sailors like me are used and then dumped. Quitting is my only option and I hope my story can cause public awareness and push the federation to review their whole framework.”

Knight said there were two reasons for not sending Tse to Langkawi.

“Firstly, Tse Sui-lun’s teammate was not available for the event and, secondly, we decided Tse’s overall training objectives would be better met by him training locally under a new coach who was due to arrive at Hong Kong Sports Institute in January. The Langkawi event ended up being a small event of just six boats, this compares to Japan [another Asian Cup event held last year] where there were over 40 boats,” said Knight.

Knight said the events are picked for various reasons, including gaining experience in bigger fleets, logistical considerations, as well as choosing events that will most likely include the chance to race against their principal Asian rivals.

He said Tse and Chik had received “significant support to compete in the two-man 470 boat in 2015”.

“In addition to providing coaching in Hong Kong, this support enabled them to go to five overseas events [including the two Olympic qualifiers], each time with full support including coaching,” said Knight.

“The team was disappointed not to have won one of the qualification spots for Hong Kong at the Rio Olympics but given they just transitioned to the 470 class we encouraged them to consider a longer-term goal towards the Asian Games and the next Olympics.”

Chan Yuk-wah, coach of Tse and Chik, said Tse didn’t consult or notify him of his resignation. He only got the news from Knight last week.

“Tse may think he made a smart decision but he has not,” said Chan, “If I was him and I really loved the sport, I would try to stay by all means.”

“Actually Tse and Chik finished fourth in the last Asian Games and with this good result the Hong Kong delegation will include them again in the next Games in Jakarta in 2018. If he thinks HK$9,000 a month is not enough, he can still be a part-time athlete. So I don’t quite understand his departure simply because he was not sent to a single competition.”