S'pore's 420 pair grind out win
Singapore's 420 pair deliver hard-fought gold; 49erFX duo dominate from start to finish
To ease their minds before the medal race, Samantha Neubronner and Elise Yokoyama decided to distract themselves by telling each other jokes.
Singapore's women's double-handed 420 (Under-19) duo had a slender four-point lead over Malaysia heading into the final race and admitted they were a bit tense, especially as they had to deal with a one-hour delay - due to lightning at the National Sailing Centre yesterday.
Pushing the relax button worked, as Samantha, 17, and Elise, 18, finished just behind Malaysia in the final race to win by two points overall.
Malaysia's Nor Adriana Nazri and Siti Norulakhairi had to settle for silver, with Thailand's Piriyaporn Kangkla and Chaninat Poolsirikot third.
"It was very nerve-wracking before the start of the race. A four-point lead is nothing if it's a medal race," Elise said.
"During the delay, we tried to get into our usual racing mode - breathe, think about funny things, do warm-ups and get the adrenalin going.
"We wanted to stay close to Malaysia. We stayed right behind them and that was enough (to win)."
The victory helped Singapore finish as the top sailing nation at the 28th SEA Games, with 10 out of the 20 gold medals on offer, ahead of Malaysia's seven.
It was Elise's second SEA Games gold. The Raffles Institution student also triumphed in the Optimist event in the 2011 edition.
"Winning this gold is more special because it's at home and I have a teammate to share it with," said the 18-year-old.
"The regatta was quite long and we made a few mistakes at the beginning. It's quite a different atmosphere here, because the fleet is quite small."
The Republic's women's skiff 49erFX team of Griselda Khng and Sara Tan were also victorious at the East Coast beach yesterday, after winning all their races for a perfect score.
Malaysia's Rufina Tan and Connie Tsen got the silver, while Thailand's Nichapa Waiwai and Patteera Meeyousamsen took the bronze.
Before the day began, Khng, 23, and Tan, 24, were already all but confirmed as gold medallists in the 49erFX event.
But the duo won the medal race just for good measure.
"I liked the conditions out there. It was quite gusty and patchy - it was perfect for us," Khng said.
"We managed to get a pretty good start and that made it a lot easier."
Tan said the duo are now looking towards the Olympic qualifiers at the World Championships in November.
"This is a pretty new class, and we are aiming to improve on our starts and decision-making beyond our result (yesterday)," Tan said.
"Usually when we're competing overseas, our friends and family don't see what we're doing and it's really nice that they could do that here."
In the men's double-handed 420 (Under-19), Singapore's team of Loh Jia Yi and Matthew Scott Lau (25 points) finished behind the Malaysian team of Naquib Shahrin and Uzair Amin Yusof (12), and had to settle for silver.
Thailand (26) took home the bronze.
Singapore concluded the sailing competition with 10 gold medals, six silvers and one bronze.
Malaysia (7-5-2) finished second with Thailand third (2- 6-8).
Winning 10 golds is a strong showing from our sailors. They exceeded our pre- Games expectations and we’re very proud of their achievements.
— Ben Tan (above), president of the Singapore Sailing Federation