by Jason Lim
As F1 fever descends upon Singapore for its fifth installment this year, the vicinity surrounding the now-famous street circuit prepares to welcome a first in another form. Making their way to scenic Marina Bay, are equally flamboyant sailboats, with colourful sails, and eye-catching spinnakers, for a contest as unique as our F1 Night Race – competitive keelboat sailing in the heart of our city. Juxtaposed against towering skyscrapers that form our new Marina Bay Financial Centre, the iconic Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and the Super Trees from Gardens by the Bay, 11 four-men teams comprising some of the best tertiary student sail teams from the Asia Pacific region will compete in the first-ever Asia Pacific Student Cup.
International teams on practice day 19 Sep
From 19 to 22 September 2012, the event will see exciting competition in the Bay from noon till the late afternoon each day.
The Asia Pacific Student Cup builds on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Singapore Management University (SMU) – the current chair of the Singapore Universities Sports Council - and Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) in March 2012, to promote keelboat sailing and sailing-related initiatives among tertiary-level youth in Singapore. This exclusive partnership enables SMU and SSF to jointly organise 'Sailing in the City' programmes for students and members of the public.
The only Southeast Asian University to have a keelboat sailing programme, SMU is a valued partner to SSF in bringing sailing into the City, with the Asia Pacific Student Cup being the first competitive sailing event held in Marina Bay.
Beyond competition, the event serves as a crucial platform for regional university students to bond. A strong slate of teams from Australia, China, Japan and Thailand will vie with Singapore’s best, represented by teams from SMU, National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and United World College Southeast Asia (UWCSEA). Among these sailors – whose ethnicities hail from Italy, Ireland, Great Britain and Norway, are former medalists from SEA Games and other international events.
teams gathered at pre-event briefing in city centre on 19 Sep
The initial round robin stages of the Asia Pacific Student Cup will comprise thrilling one-on-one match races, of which the top eight teams will advance to the knockout stages. The semi-finals and finals will feature on the final day, Saturday, 22 September from 11 to 4pm.
Spectators can follow the racing excitement from various vantage points around Marina Bay during the four sailing days: namely, from the Esplanade to the Esplanade Bridge; and at the One Fullerton waterfront walkway to Fullerton Bay Hotel. The race control area, located near the City Gallery will be able to provide spectators with the latest race rankings.
'It is great to see so many teams from Asia Pacific region competing in this inaugural edition, coming to Singapore as the city revs up for the F1 weekend. It will be wonderful to see the Marina Bay waters come alive, as the trackside action heats up. I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience for both our local varsity sailors and visiting teams to sail in the city centre, and be in the centre of attention,' said Ms Mok Kah Mun, SSF Vice President overseeing keelboat sailing development.
The addition of this event for tertiary students complements the various sailing development pathways already created by SSF and its affiliate clubs and marinas. This stems from the sport’s vision to be inclusive and reach out to diverse groups of people in Singapore. SMU has been a shining example of institutions providing such opportunities for its students: many of the SMU Sail Team members picked up sailing only at aged 19, but have since progressed to become not just lifelong sailors, but professional ones.
SMU’s involvement in organising its university sailing events is set to grow, judging by the track record of the annual Western Circuit Sailing Regatta, held in collaboration with Raffles Marina, which has developed into a-much-anticipated sailing competition by the local sailing fraternity, and also a recognised regatta, highly regarded in the Asian sailing circuit calendar.
'Our SMU Sail Team has been very fortunate in gaining valuable experience from organising local and regional sailing regattas. Student sailors have not only honed their skills but also learnt how to organise and manage these major regattas. We are pleased to be able to provide a conduit for students across universities to come together and have some fun, all in the name of good sportsmanship. Moreover, this passionate team has a very strong and dedicated group of alumni who comes back, some as professional sailors representing Singapore, to lend their support in terms of training, or dispensing invaluable advice,' said Ms Bernadette Toh, Director of SMU’s Office of Student Life.
Without a doubt, the Asia Pacific Student Cup, set in an iconic location within Singapore’s vibrant new city centre, looks set to become one of the nation’s new exciting signature sporting events.
Teams sparring on practice day test sailing sessions left Singapore Poly Right Japan Team