Windsurfing prodigy Mak Cheung-wing top of her class as she sails to victory at Hong Kong Open

Teenager claims two titles at Stanley Bay to continue her winning form and is looking to becoming a full-time athlete in the sport in the future

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 11:46pm

Mak Cheuk-wing might be playing catch-up at school, but on the water she’s in a class of her own after she won both the girls’ youth (Under-17) and junior (Under-15) categories of techno 293 at the Haitong Hong Kong Open at Stanley Bay on Sunday.

Former world junior champion Mak had spent so much time boardsailing and competing over the past 12 months that she didn’t have time for her studies at St Stephen’s Girls’ College and has decided to repeat Form Two.

Last year, the 14-year-old sailor was a notable absentee in class as she blazed a glorious path to international stardom, winning last year’s under-15 world title in Italy.

Last month, she showed that her victory in Lake Garda in northern Italy was no fluke as she clinched a silver medal at the world junior championships in Salou, Spain last month.

Although her achievements on the board is impressive and her future in the sport looks bright, there’s still the small matter of school that needs attention but the teenager said she’s working on a plan.

“My school attendance is not sufficient mainly because I have been training and competing after becoming [under-15] world champion so I had to repeat Form Two for another year,” said the youngster. “But I am planning to train full-time to improve my skills as I will face better sailors in future. I will probably need to find another school that can allow for both study and sport.”

At the moment, Mak trains twice a week after school and that’s usually done on land in the fitness room at the Sports Institute. But she spends most of her weekends training on water.

Coach Cheng Kwok-fai said Mak was on the look out for schools that could offer her a more flexible time table to accommodate both her academic and sporting needs.

“She is only 14 and she needs to consult her parents before making such an important decision [training full-time],” said Cheng. “She definitely has the potential but the road ahead will not be an easy one for sure as competition is going to getting tougher as she steps up to a higher level.”

Mak is targeting two major events next year. She will compete in the Under-17 world junior championships and the Youth Olympics. “Although outstanding in her sport for her age, she still needs to work on her physical strength but training full-time would definitely help,” said the coach.

Meanwhile, Hayley Chan Hei-man, the newly crowned World Cup series women’s RSX champion in the Tokyo leg, managed second at Stanley after losing to fellow countrywoman Sonia Lo Sin-lam.

In the men’s RSX, Andy Leung Ho-tsun topped the ranking list by beating compatriots Michael Cheng Chun-leung and Lee Chun-ting into second and third place respectively. Both Cheng and Lee have earned two Hong Kong spots at next year’s Asian Games, while Leung missed out on a place. Chan also made it to Jakarta in the women’s competition while the second spot will be decided after the Asian Championships in Panghu, Taiwan next week. Ngai Wei-yan, who withdrew from the Hong Kong Open, after the first day because of injury, is favourite to grab the berth.