15 March 17 The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA
Singapore's National Sailing Centre (NSC) was appointed Asia's first World Sailing Approved Training Centre yesterday.
With the appointment, the Singapore Sailing Federation will be working closely with World Sailing, the sport's world governing body, to raise the level of sailing in the region.
The other four World Sailing Approved Training Centres are the International Sailing Centre Medemblik in the Netherlands, Club Nautico Mar del Plata in Argentina, and Spain's Barcelona International Sailing Centre and the Dinghy Academy in Valencia.
These centres aim to provide training and development programmes for athletes and coaches who are working towards competing in the Olympic Games and world-class events.
They also work towards increasing the number of nations that participate regularly in World Sailing events, and assist other nations in accessing training for their sailors to reach the Olympic Games.
Sailors from Asian countries keen to hone their sailing skills can now access the training expertise available at the NSC, and will also be privy to its facilities and equipment.
World Sailing training and development adviser Robert Holden stressed that developing the sport in Asia is one of its priorities.
He added: "Singapore plays a pivotal role in assisting other countries and this Approved Training Centre is a very important step in this."
SingaporeSailing CEO Andrew Tam told The Straits Times he hopes the NSC's newly-acquired status will not only boost local sailing standards, but also help Asia's sailors keep up with their European and American counterparts.
"By having our fellow Asian countries push us, our standard will be higher and we can compete against the European countries at the Olympics," he said.
"We may have strength in South-east Asia, but at the Olympics we must do something more to be able to keep up with the European sailors."
Singapore was the top sailing nation at the 2015 SEA Games here, with 10 golds, seven silvers and one bronze.
Apart from growing the sport in Asia, Tam also wants to help develop sailing in emerging nations like Cambodia.
Welcoming the Republic's Asian neighbours to the NSC, he said: "Cambodia will host the SEA Games in 2023 and if they don't have (a sailing team), we will not have sailing at that SEA Games. We hope to grow the sport in all of Asia, so that sailing continues to be in the SEA Games.
"Sailing is always dominated by the European countries ... in the long run, I hope people will say Asia is the force to beat in sailing - even better if they say Singapore."