I watched a movie called Words and Pictures recently. It is about the rivalry between an art teacher and an English teacher. They, along with their students, battle against each other, trying to prove whether the word or the picture is more powerful. Isn’t a picture worth a thousand words? On the other hand words paint pictures. How do words and art compare? Maybe for once we shall not compete nor compare, but complement each other. It inspires me in the way I should think in sports competition. Most of the time we feel like we are just competing against each other, which can be the reality. But another way to look at it is that we’re all working hard to refine technique, pushing to improve each other, and aiming at going beyond our limits!
I have had a very mixed season of training and racing this year. Starting off in January we had a 2 month training camp in Gran Canaria (Spain), where we did a lot of speed and technique in the waves. The island was also great for biking and surfing, so we hope to be back!
In March I had a short break back in Hong Kong before heading back to Europe, this time to race in the ISAF World Cup Events. I had my first top 10 finish at Palma, and finished 13 at Hyeres. Afterwards I did a training camp in Santander where the 2014 World Championships were to be held, though in the end I decided not to compete in the Worlds to focus on the more important Asian Games held in the same week. I also competed in the European Championships in Cesme, in which we had a very nice windy regatta.
I spent some time off in Holland in which one of our Dutch coaches Jochem took his son and I to visit the Efteling theme park, the Apenheul where monkeys climbed on our shoulders! For the second off-period in Holland I did a bike trip from Scheveningen to Texel along the North Sea route, doing about 200km distance and spending a very ‘gezellig’ night at Mrs Appel’s home in Alkmaar. I made a point to ride past Dutch Olympic champion Dorian’s home, in which to my disappointment he’d just left the country for his wedding!
After a few more days training in the ripping waters of Scheveningen with Lilian, I was off to Rio de Janeiro with coach Rene. We spent a considerable amount of time checking out the waters where the 2016 Olympics will be held. In these regattas, I spotted many mistakes and some bad old habits which need to be trained off. I wasn’t happy with my results but it was time to be back in Asia and focus on the preparation for the Asian Games.
It was a tough decision not to do the World Championships in Santander but now looking back it was a worthy and sensible decision. I did two training camps with my young teammates Rafeek and Mui in Incheon, Korea. They both pushed very hard in training, and were eager to get faster and race smarter. Rene got the tough job to make sure I stayed in one piece and get into top form at the right time. Rene was also looking after the whole windsurfing team (Mistral, RS:One, RS:X) along with coaches Yin and Winfield, whereas our old yoga master Micheal and physiotherapist Stephanie took care of our bodies. Throughout the lead up to the Asian Games we had a good atmosphere in the team. We were confident and competent, at the same time calm and having fun.
It was the first time I stayed in the Main Athletes’ Village since most of the time sailors were sent off somewhere off the map. It was exciting to be with friends from other sports, hanging around during meals and for games at the Athlete Service Centre. We also attended the Opening Ceremony, proud to see our most senior windsurfer Fai lead the march with the national flag for the Hong Kong Delegation.
We had more wind during the week of the competition in the Asian Games than any week whilst we had been training there. Still, we had one day of long postponement since the sea breeze failed to kick in. 12 races were finished and I was happy with my performance. It was a much needed boost and I am glad I delivered. I owe this to Angela, our psychologist at the Sports Institute. Windsurfing was new to her but she has been very enthusiastic and full of ideas on how to improve our game. Fai also came first in his class and it made me smile every time I heard him talk in the interviews. He has always been kind and open to us younger athletes, giving us tips along the way, and now was his time to shine. Andy and Sonia both came in second. It was exciting and impressive to watch both of them fight their way through, they had some very tight races and we all wished silently for them to win.
It took me a while to be able to sleep long enough after the Asian Games ended. We had been racing for 7 days and the adrenaline wouldn’t leave. It was time to rest but the mind wouldn’t let go right away. I was blessed with many reunions and gatherings with friends. The most pleasant surprise was when I received a message of congratulations from Professor Mathieson at HKU . The university, especially the Faculty of Arts, has been very supportive in encouraging me to pursue my dream. I am glad I still recognized some familiar faces when I was there to pay a visit. I rejoiced with family for a few days before taking a retreat away from the hustle in Yokosuka, Japan. This year one of the best things that has happened to me is getting to know my roommate Looka. She came with me to Japan and even learnt how to windsurf in 2 hours! Through teaching her I also made some new discoveries on how to improve my windsurfing. She did complain that it made her very tired, which was actually a relief to me since I started worrying she might make a better windsurfer than me!
Tomorrow we start training on the RS:X again. I have a new year ahead and I am looking forward to it!