Ashlea Tham clinches C Div girls’ sailing title, Latest School Sports News - The New Paper
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Ashlea Tham clinches C Div girls’ sailing title

Tanjong Katong Girls’ School sailor Ashlea Tham did not have high hopes going into this season’s National School Games.

Having competed in the Optimist class since picking up sailing in Primary 2, the Secondary 1 student was still finding her feet in her first year in the ILCA 4.

However, she surprised herself on April 25 as she took home the C Division girls’ ILCA 4 gold with a nett score of three points after winning three out of her four races at the National Sailing Centre. Dunman High School’s Jemima Chang was second with five points, followed by Mildred Wong (nine) from Raffles Girls’ School.

Ashlea, 13, said: “I feel very proud of myself because I didn’t know that I would win.

“I expected to get fourth because I know I’m not good at ILCA because I just started.”

She credited her coaches for helping make the transition from Optimist to ILCA 4 easier, adding that sailing the latter was difficult as it is faster.

The support of her siblings is also what makes the sport interesting for the teenager, with Amos, 15, and Ashlyn, 11, also sailors.

Amos, who is at Victoria School, finished fifth in the B Division boys’ ILCA 4 event, while Ashlyn, a St. Hilda’s Primary School pupil, claimed the senior girls’ Optimist gold.

Ashlea said: “If we need help, we can ask each other.

“My brother is also teaching me some sailing skills before my next regatta.”

Also leaning on familial support was Raffles Institution’s Ian Goh, who dedicated his win in the B Division ILCA 4 event to his elder brother – national sailor Isaac Goh.

The 15-year-old had come into the second day of the regatta in fourth place, but bounced back with second-placed finishes in the remaining three races to come in first with eight nett points.

With Isaac cheering him on, on a separate boat, Ian edged out his schoolmates Aurick Leow (10 nett points) and Eitan Oh (13) to the title. The Secondary 3 student said: “I was on the back foot and I was feeling a bit upset with myself, but I’m glad that I managed to persevere and get that division title.”

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) sailor Sarah Seow also had to come from behind to secure the A Division girls’ ILCA 6 crown, an achievement she put down to having an increased sense of self-belief.

Sarah, 17, had begun racing only two years ago and she always felt that she was not as good as her peers.

A former competitive ballerina, the Year 5 student decided to pick up sailing during the pandemic after opting to stop ballet.

This renewed belief helped her through some tough moments, like when she had to claw her way back from finishing third in her third race.

Sarah said: “I was really upset because I thought I didn’t do well, so I really needed that confidence to get back into the winning mindset.”

More than just getting individual honours from winning the C Division boys’ Optimist event, RI’s Ethan Chia was glad to be competing among familiar faces.

Ethan, 13, said: “I don’t want it to be all about everyone competing against each other, I want it to be friendly and for everyone to work together because that makes the sport very fun and exciting.”