Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Marina Bay, Amanda’s name was called up. In front of a sea of reporters and officials, she was given a jersey and officially declared as one of the faces representing Singapore for the sailing component at the 2018 Asian Games.
Amanda Ng Ling Kai, 24, started sailing when she was only seven years old. She was following in the footsteps of her brother and father who were both sailing recreationally at that point.
“My dad wanted me to learn to be independent and to be adaptable. When you’re out sailing, you need to be really adaptable because the conditions can change at any point and you need to be ready for that,” she said.
However, Amanda very quickly realised that the winds posed a huge challenge to her small stature.
“I was quite afraid of the wind and even the sea. I think I was just too young to be out there so I stopped sailing for a couple of years.”
However, she still found the sport to be interesting so when she was 11, Amanda decided to go back to sailing and to give it another shot. This time, Amanda was immediately able to find her footing as she was older and stronger and better equipped to handle the conditions of the sea.
“I really enjoyed it and I turned out to be quite good at sailing so I just kept doing it,” She said before adding that both her brother and father had since stopped sailing due to a lack of interest.
Amanda started out with the Optimist Club at the Singapore Sailing Federation and from there moved on to the national team.
In 2009, she switched to windsurfing so that she could gain more experience. She again switched back to the 470 class in 2015 for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.
“I have a background in sailing and the basics are mostly the same. When you learn different courses and different boats, you get better.”
However, pursuing a life of excellence does require its sacrifices and Amanda has made many. She talked about how difficult it was to maintain a life outside of sailing while she was training.
“I used to play the violin and dance as well. But eventually I had to make a choice and I chose to focus on sailing.”
The spunky sailor also added that she was one and a half years behind her peers in Singapore Management University (SMU) where she is currently studying accountancy.
“It was really tough juggling sailing and school so I took some semesters off and my teachers and school worked with me to help me manage my workload. My parents were also really supportive of my decisions. They’d rather I focus on one thing and be great at it then to struggle to manage two.”
When asked about what her training with her coach, Krai, who is from Thailand, was like, Amanda laughed and said:
“I wake up at 6.30am and I have gym and water sessions almost every day. But Krai is really fun and takes away a lot of the stress of training.”
Amanda’s sailing career has admittedly given her many opportunities but one of the biggest things was getting to travel and to train with international teams.
In fact, Amanda recently returned from a one month trip training with the sailing team in China.
“It was super tough. We followed the China team’s training routine so we woke up at 6.30am every day and had physical training at 7am. Breakfast was at 8am and then we would do more physical training and be in the water by 2pm. In the evening we had stretching exercises.”
She added that the training overseas was difficult but necessary as the water and weather conditions in Singapore did not fully equip them to deal with challenges faced in waters overseas.
“Singapore seas are quite calm and the waves are lighter. So we do well with lighter waves but we don’t always get that overseas.”
She continued by saying that in some countries, the waves can get very big with strong winds which can get very scary if you are not prepared.
When asked what her favourite part of sailing was, Amanda said:
“I just like being out of the water away from people and the stress of life. I love the quiet and peaceful feeling that I get. It’s wonderful.”
Amanda will be joining 14 other sailors to represent Singapore at the Asian Games this year which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang from 18 August to 2 September.
All Photo Credits: Amanda Ng