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Wind in Cambodia’s sails, says World Sailing expert

Sailors and windsurfers take part in the Olympic Solidarity Level 1 technical course for aspiring coaches at the Knai Bang Sailing Club in Kep on Saturday.
Sailors and windsurfers take part in the Olympic Solidarity Level 1 technical course for aspiring coaches at the Knai Bang Sailing Club in Kep on Saturday. Sreng Meng Srun

Wind in Cambodia’s sails, says World Sailing expert

The five-day Olympic Solidarity Level 1 technical course for aspiring coaches, initiated by international governing body World Sailing for the first time in the Kingdom under the aegis of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and the Cambodian Sailing Federation, concluded at the Knai Bang Sailing Club in Kep on Saturday.

The Singapore Sailing Federation’s head of training and development Joe Chan, who was appointed more than a year ago as World Sailing’s regional development coordinator for Asia, was the lead instructor taking the 28 participants, including five women, through well crafted practical and theoretical sessions aimed to impart skills to help them turn novices into independent sailors.

The 67-year-old two-time Olympian and multiple SEA Games medallist, who has been part of the global drive to develop the sport as part of the emerging nation’s programme, was partnered by Singapore’s national windsurfing coach Joshua Choo Meng Keong, who will be leading the city state in the upcoming Youth Olympics to be held in Argentina in November.

The two field experts employed well established teaching methods, including illustrations, drawings, question-and-answer sessions, field drills and on-water practicals, to get the first batch of aspirants a clear sense of the popular Olympic discipline, one that is gradually taking root in Cambodia following the forming of the Cambodian Sailing Federation less than three years ago.

The secretary-general of CSF, Som Sothrithypong, who worked with the experts as a translator for the class, said it was a big leap for the federation to involve young and enthusiastic sailors in the structured development of sailing in the country.

Asian Games debut

In his final assessment, Chan said he was pleasantly surprised to see five women participants, which sent a clear signal that sailing in Cambodia is ready for more female participation, a goal that World Sailing has been vigorously pursuing round the globe.

“I was encouraged by this thirst for learning among the participants, and I am optimistic that at least four to five members of this particular batch have great potential to turn themselves into good coaches,” Chan told The Post.

“After this course we can hopefully look forward to some of the participants helping out newcomers with skill factors, safety and the upkeep of equipment,” noted Meng Wang, a close confidante of CSF president Gordon Tang, who is also a vice president of the NOCC and, more importantly, a competitive sailor himself.

Although business commitments kept him away from the course, the CSF president lost no time in thanking Olympic Solidarity, World Sailing and the NOCC for sending two well known experts to teach Cambodia’s emerging sailors important lessons in skills, safety, rules and ocean responsibilities.

“We in the CSF are committed to improve sailing standards and spread its appeal far and wide, and we have already laid out concrete competition plans for this year,” Tang said in a statement made available to The Post by the CSF.

According to the calendar released by the CSF, Cambodian sailors will take part in the April 20-22 Johor Sailing Regatta in Malaysia, followed by a training stint from May until July with the Guangdong sailing team in China.

The Kingdom’s sailors are also training hard for their much anticipated Asian Games debut in at least three events in August.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom is expected to send windsurfers to take part in this December’s Pattaya Open in Thailand.

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