So Brandon, how would you describe yourself?

I find myself to be a typically approachable and friendly person who you can always joke around with.

I hope to be able to strike a fair balance in whatever I do in life, be it sailing, studies, relationships and other external activities that I find myself taking part in. Many of my friends would also find me quite mature for my age. Because what’s important to me is knowing when to have fun and when to get down to business.

When did you start Sailing?

I started sailing at a mere age of 7, with all my cousins Jessica and Rebecca representing Singapore in overseas events and bringing back medals, it was only natural for me to start and follow their legacy. Obviously as with any new activity or sport you join, it took a bit of getting used to at first, dare I say that it felt like a chore. However the more I got into sailing, the more I enjoyed it. I must also thank my primary school coach, coach Foo for really helping me along my journey and giving me a solid push in the right direction.

What were your best memories of the early regattas?

This is really personal to me and I still remember it clear as day. I was 8 or 9 at the time, and I remember being absolutely clueless on what was happening around me, I even had to ask a fellow sailor, Alan, where the finishing line was! It was around 3-4 races per day, and in total the regatta was 4 days. It was extremely tiring obviously, with the sun beating down on you all day. As a little kid back then it was pretty exhausting to pull up our boats after a long day of sailing, luckily I did have some good friends who helped me. I loved the whole environment of racing, everyone was so competitive and then you have me, a little 8 year old boy who does not even know the course!

Describe your overseas training experience

Honestly I am extremely lucky that I was given the chance to train outside of Singapore, taking into account that not many other sports get these opportunities. I have trained in Fremantle, Lanzarote Island, Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I look forward to many more trainings overseas.

I never actually felt negatively about training overseas surprisingly, no homesickness, jet lag etc. I always went into it trying to have fun, but also improving myself. One thing I would like to mention is that throughout 90 percent of my trips, I always had my buddy Wonn Kye alongside me, and we’ve travelled together since I can remember. He has always helped me in whatever way he could and he’s a guy you can really count on.

One of my most memorable experiences was in Australia, in which the conditions were really tough and gruelling, however I managed to break my mental barrier and get out of my comfort zone and beat a couple of australian sailors in their own waters!

How do you cope with school and competitive training?

Competing overseas is always hard because we travel during school periods, and miss on average about 2 weeks of lessons. In a year we can miss up to 8 weeks of school, due to both international and local competitions. However, most of my teammates whom I travel with are from the same school as I am, and we always help each other out in our studies overseas, be it studying together or testing each other our knowledge in a subject. I feel that the people around me have really supported me tremendously in my career.

One thing my father would always tell me is “If you don’t ask for the help, you won’t get it!” We are lucky to have so many resources around us, great teachers, friends, parents… all we need to do is ask and we can get the help! I had a desk mate who actually helped me take notes of what was happening in class when I was gone, and when I got back I was greeted with a tidy stack of worksheets that I had missed, and a list of what was went through in class, thanks so much Tze Siang!

My teachers were also extremely understanding in my competitions and would stay back in school after lessons just to help me catch up with my work, my Chinese teacher in particular, Mr Feng, really was dedicated to helping me and would stay long hours after school just to help me. When we get back from a trip, I would typically take a few days of training and focus on my studies, and try to get back on track with the rest of the class.

Has training overseas affected your studies??

Overseas training has actually took a big toll on me in 2017, in which my grades dipped quite significantly. It was only then in which I realised that I was not managing my time properly and that my off time from training was not being used effectively to study. My coach Liu Hong was actually really understanding of this, and gave me time off to get back on track with my studies, as he understands the importance of it. My parents also helped me to draw up a plan or timetable to be able to organise my time properly, so I would be effectively using my time and being productive.

What do you do on weekends?

With sailing, our weekends are basically eaten up by gym sessions and water trainings, easily from 12.30pm to as late as 8pm. We have to give up going out with friends, catching up on our studies and spending time with family. It definitely does make me feel left out, as I see all my friends having fun without me while I’m grinding it out on water or on land.

However I have tried to take a break from sailing and I found it extremely weird to live a “typical” life. I found myself not knowing what to do with my time, and I realised that sailing was my life and my passion. Without it, I had a lot of time on my hands I did not know how to invest.

What has been the hardest thing about getting to the Asian Games?

Committing to the level training that is required to get to the Asian Games is hard. With such a significant amount of our time being invested in sailing, we barely have time outside to do our own things. We then have to juggle our studies, friends and other commitments in the little time that we have.

How does Sailing challenge you?

Sailing is always pushing us to our limits, be it training for strong winds in the gym, or actually being on the water and enduring the pain in the winds. Sailing is also a highly technical sport, especially since the strategy and all the decisions has to be made in my case, by one person. Although at times it may be extremely tough, and although sometimes you might feel like giving up because you are losing, I am always down for a good challenge.

What does Sailing teach you about learning to lose?

Learning to lose, a phrase extremely personal to me. In my career I have faced many losses, and with the losses come big learning points. The psychologists Johnathan and Jeevi have helped me to learn to lose.

Firstly, the processes of the competition not the end results which is more important. Sometimes, a lost can really teach you many things, and give you an opportunity to reboot and see where you went wrong. From there, you can correct your mistakes and come back even stronger.

What is your biggest fear

I think this not only applies to sailing but to all other sports, and my biggest fear is actually not achieving good results and saying to myself “ I should have done this better” this basically means that I did not give my utmost best and in turn did not do well.

I believe that if you have done your very best but still did terribly, at least you are not telling yourself “you should have done it”. You have done your best, and you can now analyse your mistakes and know were you went wrong. However, if you did not do your best, then you really have a lot to regret about.

What does success mean to you?

Success means doing your very best, and at the end of the day having no regrets. Learning from your mistakes is also another major point of success.

What does it mean to be a champion?

Being a champion not only means winning in terms of raw score, it also means winning fairly, without any underhand methods, without any doping and definitely with sportsmanship.

How would you like to be remembered?

I want to be known as someone who did everything fairly, and not only excelled at my sport, but also the one who gave back to the community which raised me.

 

Read more about Brandon!

National B Div Sailing: Boys’ title goes to Raffles for ninth consecutive year; Nanyang defend theirs after close fight – Red Sports, 17 Apr 2018