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Eight Bells: Lock Hong Kit

by Straits Times, Guy Nowell 24 Jun 00:14 PDT
Kit Lock (left) with Royal Selangor YC Commodore Jeffrey Voon at the 2019 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta © Guy Nowell

Sail-World Asia is deeply saddened to report the death of Lock Hong Kit, IJ, known to his friends as ‘Kit Lock'. One of Singapore's sailing pioneers, he passed away last Saturday 20 June, at the age of 74.

Kit won a gold medal at the South East Asian Peninsula (SEAP) 1973 Games with Jimmy Chua in the 470, bronze in 1975 with Tan Tee Suan in the Fireball, and gold in the 1983 SEA Games with Loew Cheng Hong in the Lark.

For Lock, sailing was always about not giving up. At the 1983 SEA Games, a bad start left him and partner Leow Cheng Hong dead last in a particular race. A huge downpour across the course obliterated visibility, and they sailed by compass alone, having remembered the bearing to the next mark. "By the time the storm abated, all the boats were scattered all over the place - but we had gone from last to first", remembers Leow. Said Lock: "Sailing is like that. Never give up, no matter how bad your position is. It ain't over till the fat lady sings."

He also competed in six different classes at international regattas. Along with others like Julian Yeo, James Tham and Tan Tee Suan, Lock paved the way for many generations of local sailors.

Tan, who won a bronze medal with Lock in the Fireball class at the 1975 Seap Games in Bangkok, said: "He's a great person and a very good friend. He was someone who was very knowledgeable and kept himself informed.” Tan and Lock had met several years before the Games at an annual outdoor camp for teachers and since then, the duo's love for the outdoors brought them on many adventures in other sports including canoeing and scuba diving. Only a handful of clubs offered sailing opportunities so the fraternity of local sailors was a small one.

Pioneers like Lock and Tan, both of whom were school teachers, stumbled into the sport in their late 20s only as a form of recreation. Said Tan, now 73: "We started sailing just by taking a boat overnight to a nearby island. We enjoyed, we fished... we sailed because we liked being on the water. Before sailing, Lock was a scuba diver and a canoeist, and subsequently became Sailing Team Manager and Coach at several major Games, including the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima.

Veteran sports administrator and former national sailor Ng Ser Miang said: "Kit belongs to the pioneer generation of sailors. He shared the joy of sailing with youths and coached many of our national sailors and inspired them to become champions. "He was well respected internationally for his integrity and strength of character. He will be sadly missed by all of us."

As an IJ, his command of the racing rules was second only to his encyclopedic knowledge of every seafood restaurant between Port Klang and Langkawi – the route of the Jury bus during the annual Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. He will be remembered by the RMSIR competitors for short answers, a twinkle in his eye, and (usually) a beer to hand. RIP.

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