Hello Riji! So, when and how did you start sailing?

I started sailing when I was 8. One day, I came home and I told my dad I wanted to try out sailing. I think it was because my PE teacher at that time (I was in primary 2) was the sailing teacher in charge, and somehow I got interested to join it.


Where in the world have you trained and sailed at?

I have sailed in Port Dickson, Bodrum, Helsinki, Langkawi, Karatsu, Kiele, Tonsberg, Auckland, Hong Kong, Cagliari, Lake Garda, Vilamoura and most recently Palma.


How has intensive/overseas training affected your studies?

Having to train a lot and go overseas for competition have taught me to prioritise the tasks I have on hand, and how to manage my time between juggling school and sailing. When I miss periods of school, my classmates help me by collecting homework and my teachers offer to set up consultation sessions for me to catch up on my work.

I spend most of my weekends in the year training, and the only times I would have free days would be when studying for exams or right after an overseas trip. My school mates often go for movies or outings together, which sometimes makes me wish I could be a normal school boy, but over the years I got used to it and the experiences made me develop my own set of priorities for what I want. Ultimately, after a good training, or when I get to compete both locally and overseas, I look back and appreciate what I truly have and am grateful that I am here.


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

I think the most challenging part has been the beginning of our 49er journey as we only just started sailing the boat late last year. We had to start from the basics, and it was a very steep learning curve for us as it is an Olympic class with a very high competitive level, as well as being extremely physically demanding.


How does sailing challenge you?

Sailing is a sport which requires one to be physically fit, mentally strong, tactically smart as well as having  the technical skills to sail the boat well. In order to achieve performance, I have to work on all these areas simultaneously and this requires a lot of dedication both on and off the water


Why is sailing a mental game?

Sailing competitions normally last for a number of days, and with a large number of races. During racing, one might encounter both good races and bad races, and in order to stay on top, one has to maintain their mental state to race well. In addition, during a race, one might have a bad start but keeping controls of one’s emotions will still create opportunities to catch up later on.


Describe a time when you were tempted to quit but did not

When I was 12, I almost decided to quit competitive sailing. I was racing in the Optimist, and I was quite big for my age back then, so I struggled a lot to keep up with the rest as I was getting heavy for the boat, and my skills were not developed enough. I remember setting targets for myself to hit that year but just not achieving them. I was very frustrated and felt like I was only regressing. However, after talking to my dad, I decided to push on till the next year. While I did not perform well, I retained my love for the sport and soon converted to another class where I enjoyed training again. If I had not continued, I might not be here today.


What does success mean to you?

To me, success means achieving goals I set for myself. Success comes as a result of the process, and if I have put in the effort and reached my target, I have succeeded.


Read more about Riji!

Bouquet: Kudos to young sailors – Straits Times, 23 Dec 2016
Team Singapore at the Games – The New Paper, 28 Aug 2017