A group of Singaporean students barely into their teens were crowned world champions yesterday in this year’s Optimist World Championships.

3 years ago, Singapore’s sailors were the defending champions to beat at the Championships, but lost the world title to Thailand. Yesterday, the team of 5 young sailors beat that same team from Thailand and reclaimed the title for the Republic in the 15-and-Under sailing class.

Jodie Lai, a 14 year-old Raffles Girls School student, also brought home another world tite when she won the girls’ sailing category by a huge 47-point margin. She finished ahead of 2nd place Italian Gaia Bergonzini and 3rd place Spaniard Aina Colom Miro.

Jodie finished second overall in the Open category, the only girl placed among the top 16 in the 272-strong fleet. Slovenian Rok Verderber took the title, with Norwegian Mathias Berthet third.

Jodie was also part of the team with students James Koh, Daniel Hung, Koh Yi Nian and Muhammad Daniel Kei Yazid as the Singapore team won the first race in the best-of-three final. They were declared the champions after the race committee called off the remaining races due to lack of wind.

In a phone interview from Dziwnow, Poland, Jodie told The Straits Times that this was her first Optimist World Championships.

“We were very nervous in every race because we knew that one mistake could mean losing the whole thing.

“We really wanted to do well but we also knew we can’t put too much pressure on ourselves.”

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