With the U-15 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Championship (OAOC), an international junior sailing competition, kicking off from 12 November at the Ngwesaung Beach, officials hope the event will develop the sport and help showcase the beach’s tourism potential.
The Myanmar Yachting Federation has been working towards hosting the OAOC, an international junior sailing competition, since 2016. Local and foreign coaches with a background in international sailing races have been hired to train competitors from Myanmar.
“We started our preparations for hosting the race in 2016. We trained throughout 2017 to train sailors and get them ready for participating in international sailing races. I am satisfied with the training and guidance provided by the coaches, and support from the Myanmar Yachting Federation,” said Myanmar Yachting Federation Manager Sai Pyae Son Hein.
“I undertook my first yacht ride in the summer of 2013. I have trained for this race for a year. I have also participated in international yachting races in Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore, and finished third in the races in Viet Nam. I have had great experiences in these daunting races with talented competitors,” said Ma Thandar Aung, 11. He is attending Grade-7 at the Practising High School at the Yangon Institute of Education (now, Yangon University of Education).
The objectives behind holding international races is attracting the attention of the public to yachting, upgrading the basic infrastructure for yachting, and improving the support system for the sport, besides promoting tourism and youth development activities.
U Phone Kyaw Moe Myint, the vice president of the Myanmar Yachting Federation, said that a sailing club has been opened in Yangon. “There are plans to extend the sailing club to Ngwesaung to nurture fresh talent. Coaches will be assigned in Ngwesaung and similar programmes will be offered, with systematic training for the young,” he said.
At the ongoing U-15 OAOC, Myanmar’s yachting team comprises 10 male and eight female athletes. Over 130 athletes from 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and North America are participating in the competition.
Myanmar Yachting Federation Manager Sai Pyaw Sone Hein said three local athletes have joined this race, along with Sailing Club members and students from the Institute of Sports and Physical Education. Most of them have taken part in sailing races and some have international sailing experience. “The youngest athelete, Maung Htet Lin, achieved second place, and a local, Lwin Ko Ko Htet, won at the race held in Viet Nam. We hope their sailing experience in international races will help them win the current race,” he said.
As the OAOC is seeing participation from local sailors, the Myanmar Yachting Federation invited students from areas close to Ngwesaung Beach to cheer and motivate them.
“The Ngwesaung Beach is still poorly developed due to lack of sports activities. Yachting races have drawn the attention of young locals. I am glad to see some local talent in the races,” said U Myint Lwin, a local from the area.
Myanmar hosted the 27th Southeast Asian Games in 2013 and sailing races have been held in Ngwesaung in the past. The country also hosted the Myanmar Wave Rider Club and KTA Race Open 2015, which saw participation from international sailors.
Additionally, the country holds national sailing races yearly.
“This is my 10th IODA event. I enjoyed the event. Ngwesaung Beach has the best facilities in terms of accommodation, food, events. The people of Myanmar are very hospitable,” said Lior J Lavie, the Israeli coach for the US Yachting crew.
U Soe Win, assistant director of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism (Ngwesaung branch), pointed out that the event can help introduce international travellers to the natural beauty of Ngwesaung Beach, and put it on their destination list.
Ngwesaung is famous for its beautiful beach and untouched islands. It has several high-end hotels.
—Min Thit (MNA)
(Translated by Ei Myat Mon)