Optimist story

For this issue, we wish to celebrate promising sailor, Lumiere Ng, and his graduation from Optimists to the next chapter of his sailing life. His progression gives younger sailors (and their families) a really good sense of the hard work, good fortune and joy young people experience through Optimist sailing. He has become the sailor he is through tears, grit, laughter, mentorship, family support and friendship. Let us read his lovely recount:

Lumiere’s sailing journey

They always say, a smooth sea doesn’t make a good sailor. Well, this is not completely true. With a good coach, even the flattest sea can create a good sailor.

I started sailing four years ago. At first, it was a way to get out of the house. Then, slowly it became an interest and a sport for me to escape from the real world, leaving everything behind. It wasn’t the racing that attracted me to sailing — actually I enjoyed the wind and the sunshine.

I remember one incident when I first started sailing an Optimist. I was in Sai Kung and thought I saw a crocodile in the water. When the boat capsized, I was so frightened. I did not want to swim anywhere near the ‘crocodile’. Turns out the crocodile was a piece of old driftwood. I must have watched too many wildlife documentaries . . .

Actually, I was more attracted to the Pico than the Optimist, even though I was super light and thin. The ‘bathtub’ design of the Optimist was unappealing. Not to mention the effort required to bail water out of the boat after capsizing.

Before I started racing, I thought I knew how to sail . . . then I took part in my first race. I was there waiting near the committee boat. There was a sudden gust like an army of horses dashing towards me, I let the sail out so that I could still maintain control of the boat. Besides the gusts, there was also a strong tide pushing me back.

After a few minutes, I realised I was 10 boat lengths away from the line. A quick glance at my watch. “What! Less than a minute left!”

I quickly pulled my sail in, and headed for the line but then the wind left me. As I watched the race starting, I was there, desperately trying to avoid a sense of failure. Tears came into my eyes. My mind was completely blank. No matter how I tried, the boat just wouldn’t move. After the race finished, my coach towed me back and the whole nightmare just kept repeating again and again.

At the end of the day, my coach asked me if I wanted to continue the next day. I said yes. I had only one goal in my mind which was to cross the start line and finish the race.

The following day, I started and finished a race. I was full of joy, a kind that I had never experienced before. It was a sense of accomplishment that raised my spirits and I immediately set my next target: not to come last in the next regatta!

I also knew that I still had a lot to learn about sailing. After that, I was invited to join the Hebe Dragons racing team.

Hebe Dragons taught me a lot. From practical knowledge like how to sit to making tactical decisions. Most importantly, I learned not to give up. If you give up half way, you will never learn anything new.

Also, making mistakes is all part of the learning process. Being afraid to make mistakes holds you back from progressing. I was afraid to make mistakes on the start line, but this only leads to more errors. Sometimes instead of avoiding mistakes, try and accept them and learn from them.

The longer I spent sailing an Optimist, the more I liked the boat and its design. But eventually I stopped sailing Optimists after the Optimist Nationals in 2017 due to the age limit. Now I am sailing a Laser 4.7 .

More importantly, I need to thank my family, especially my dad, for putting a huge amount of effort in to support me, and to take photos! I would also like to thank my coach, Alfie, for all that he taught me.

Wish you all luck in the next coming event!

For our next article, please stay tuned for our very exciting Volvo Ocean Race events!

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