Sailing for Singapore: Terena Lam

By Terena Lam, SMU School of Accountancy
Originally published on Deloitte’s SEA Games 2015 Blog. Republished with permission.

Unlike many of the other national sailing athletes who started on single-handed dinghy boats at a young age, I only started sailing when I entered university four years ago, and never did I envision the possibility of representing Singapore with the relatively little experience I have in the sport.

My love for water started in junior college when I joined canoeing as a co-curricular activity (CCA). When I entered university, I had wanted to continue honing my skills as a canoeist, but to my dismay, there was no canoeing club in SMU that I could join. This was the start of a fortuitous turn in my sporting career.

Left with little choice, I joined sailing – the next best option for a water sport at the university. The rest, as they say, is history. Even though my experience does not compare with many national sailors my age, I am grateful for the great support from the school and my family. It is because of it that I have the opportunity to participate in numerous international and local sailing regattas. The most prestigious was representing Singapore and placing 5th in the World University Match Racing Championship (WUC) in Italy in 2014.

Many of my family and friends are curious about sailing and often ask me to explain it: common questions include what sailing is about and what kind of boats I sail. Truth be told, it is not an easy sport to explain. It is not only about pulling ropes and going round the course – nor is it having a cold beer in your hand and holding a steering wheel!

I sail the keelboat (a small- to mid-sized sailing yacht) and depending on the size of the boat, it requires three people or more to sail. There are usually four main roles on a keelboat, namely the bowman, pit/mast, trimmers and helm. I am a bowman which means that I am in charge of anything that happens at the pointy end of the boat!

Sailing has taught me many values and life lessons. The most important being that patience is key. Whether it be communicating with crew members or waiting for that next gust of wind, there is always a need for patience. Patience can be applied to all other aspects of life as well – the capacity to accept whatever is before you and deal with it in a calm manner.

I applied these life lessons when I joined the summer internship programme at Deloitte last year. My supervisors and colleagues showed great support in allowing me to train for the WUC even as an intern. This is evidence of the commitment that Deloitte has for sports, and I feel assured knowing that I can continue pursuing my sporting passions when I join Deloitte after I graduate.

My journey towards representing Singapore in the 28th SEA Games has been a very unexpected one. I was extremely fortunate to be asked by some sailors to join their team in the campaign for the qualification of the sailing keelboat category. It was through several qualifier regattas that we won the spot to represent Singapore. Since then, my team has been training, with great excitement and anticipation, in both local and international waters in preparation for the SEA Games.

Even as I train hard for the Games, I will also be cheering on my fellow Deloitte Team Singapore athletes as they prepare, just as I am doing, to fight for home turf glory at the Games.

I leave you with a quote from Mark Twain that sums up my journey as a sailor thus far – “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”