Hi Amanda, when and how did you start sailing?

I first started sailing when I was 7 at the National Sailing Centre (NSC). My dad was a recreational sailor and my brother was already taking sailing lessons.  

I initially really disliked being alone out at sea and would cry every time my dad sent me for training. Thus, I quit sailing after a few months. Fast forward to when I was 11, I wasn’t as small and the sea and winds did not intimidate me as much. I started sailing again and I enjoyed it.

Within a year, I was invited to the Optimist National Squad and that was when my journey as a professional sailor began.


What were some of the best memories of your early regattas?

One of the most memorable moments was when I won a qualifying race for the windsurfing class for the Youth Olympic Games in Civitavecchia, Italy. This was back in 2010. I came in first and my teammate, Audrey Yong, came second. That meant that Singapore was really owning that race. We were both pumping to the finish line and I remember our coach,  Jannicke, screaming so loudly and cheering us on. She was super proud of us and it was simply an incredible feeling.


What is it like training overseas?

I am very grateful for the opportunities to train and compete overseas. I’ve sailed in China, Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, France, Thailand, Italy and Taiwan!

Being able to travel across the world at such a young age really opened my eyes to different cultures and made me more independent. I remember being only 12 when I went on my very first sailing trip and it was actually quite scary to sail in foreign waters. Being able to train and compete overseas exposed me to starkly different conditions; those helped me become a better sailor.

I can vividly remember my experience sailing in New Zealand where sailed in the clearest of waters and dolphins would swim right next to my board! We also ran up volcanoes for physical training and the view at the top is really breathtaking.


How do you cope with school and competitive training?

Juggling school and competitive training is no easy feat. It requires a great deal of focus and discipline, and I have had to sacrifice much of my social life. However, having supportive parents really helped me cope better.

Through my time in secondary school and junior college, my mum would pick me up from school and send me to gym for training, and then pick me up again to take me home. This helped me save time and energy on travelling so that I could catch up on school work the moment I got home.

However, university is a whole different ball game. I realised that last minute studying will not work like it used to, and that consistency is key if I wanted to juggle my studies and training well. Furthermore, I have already taken one and a half years off school (one year before the 2012 Olympics and half a year before the 2016 Olympics) to focus on training full-time. Being a year and a half behind all my friends can be lonely and discouraging at times but I believe these are just some of the sacrifices that have to be made.


How has intensive/overseas training affected your studies?

In my very first year of university, I recall missing five consecutive weeks of school as we were in Europe for a two-month training camp in preparation for the 2015 SEA Games.

After the two months abroad, I had to come back and take my final exams the very next day. I was unprepared and did not fare too well. This was a wake up call for me to start honing my time management skills. I also had to be more disciplined in keeping up with my work every day no matter how tired I was after training.

However, having a supportive school (thank you SMU!) really helped me. My professors are always willing to give me consultations to help me catch up with seminars that I missed, and make special arrangements for tests and assignments! Juggling studies and training is challenging and can sometimes be overwhelming. However, having a good support system in my family, friends, and school really helped me get through my four years in university!


What has been the most challenging part about getting to the Asian Games?

Funding and support – however, I am thankful to Deloitte Singapore for their support by awarding me the Deloitte Singapore Scholarship that has helped me tremendously in my campaign towards the 2018 Asian Games! 🙂


How does sailing challenge you?

Sailing challenges me to be more disciplined, process-driven, focused, and self-reliant. I have to be prepared to make many sacrifices, unafraid of hard work, and confident in facing new and unexpected challenges. It trains me to think on my feet, be flexible, and be resilient.

Racing is so unpredictable, and you just have to take things one step at a time and bounce back to fight for your position. Furthermore, no matter what the conditions are or how strong the winds are, you just have to suck it up, deal with it, and race your best. That is what excites me about sailing! Most importantly, I have to be open to learning and growing, and be prepared to make, and learn from mistakes.


Why is sailing a mental game?

Through the many regattas that I’ve participated in, I’ve honed my mental strength, with the ability to forget yesterday’s bad races, and look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges. This is especially so when regattas span over five days and every day you just have to get up and force yourself to think of it as a fresh start, forgetting the previous days’ results; whether good or bad.

Dealing with injuries, especially just before major events, really challenges you mentally. You have to tell yourself to stay motivated – my coach used to tell me to take it as a way of your body telling you to rest instead of feeling upset about it. I am also thankful for the sports psychologists I have worked with so far – Joyce from SSI helped me through the 2016 Rio Olympics!


Have you had any sporting injuries? How do you deal with them?

I sustained quite a few injuries over the past few years – shoulder dislocations and slip discs are the more major ones that I have had to deal with. I have to be extra cautious when I train, and have to know how much to push and when to hold back. Also, I have a very tailored gym programme that helps me strengthen my injured areas (shout out to Ranald from SSI!). On top of that, I have to go for physiotherapy regularly which helps speed up the recovery process.


What does success mean to you?

Success is achieving the goals I set out for myself. It can be winning a competition or qualifying for an event, but more importantly, it is also about earning the respect of my competitors and friends 🙂


What legacy would you like to leave in this world?

I believe that sailing should be for everyone. I hope to be able to give back to the less fortunate community. For example, helping youths who need guidance by giving them the opportunity to experience this sport which can shape their lives and characters.


Read more about Amanda!

Third time the charm for Ng – Today Online, 18 Apr 2016
Sailor Ng ready to start – The New Paper, 10 Aug 2016
Rio 2016: 15 minutes with Team Singapore sailors– Asia One, 14 Aug 2016
Sailing: Amanda Ng gets $20,000 scholarship boost from Deloitte for Asian Games campaign – Straits Times, 03 Jan 2018

Zaidani Abdullah

Zaidani is the Marketing and PR Executive at the Singapore Sailing Federation. He enjoys all things social and digital.

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