Happy rider of the storm

Happy rider of the storm

Windsurfer Adrian Lee Chun-ting needed time to find his feet before he became the Asian junior champion

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Windsurfer Adrian Lee hopes to finish among the top five at July's World Junior Championships in Cyprus.
Windsurfer Adrian Lee hopes to finish among the top five at July's World Junior Championships in Cyprus.
Photo: Kevin Kung/SCMP
Windsurfer Adrian Lee Chun-ting is the reigning Asian junior champion, but his rise to stardom wasn't always smooth sailing. In the first six months of training, he couldn't even stay upright on the surfboard.

Now 18 and a Form Six student at HKBU Affiliated School in Ma On Shan, Adrian was recruited nine years ago by the Hong Kong Sports Institute's Stars of the Future programme, which hopes to find youngsters with potential in sports.

"The institute's officers came to my school to evaluate," he says. "I was selected and given three choices: badminton, triathlon and windsurfing."

After some thought, he picked windsurfing. Early on, he might have wished that he hadn't.

His training at Tai Mei Tuk in Tai Po was "lots of fun at first", Adrian says. "Since we were all kids, coaches didn't force us to get on the boards immediately. Instead, they organised games for us on the beach and in shallow waters. I liked the games a lot."

Then came his first challenge. "We started to practise getting onto the board without the sail on. I kept falling off," he says.

"I just couldn't keep my balance, and slipped into the water. I kept trying and failing. I was disheartened and lost my confidence."

That went on for three months. He felt like giving up. "I felt very bad every time I had to head out to Tai Mei Tuk for practice," he notes. "But my mum encouraged me to keep trying. Besides, a teammate of mine who was just five years old at the time could do it. So I told myself that if he could do it, I could, too."

After half a year of training, Adrian finally gained his foothold on the surfboard. Three years later, he was picked to join the Hong Kong team's junior squad in Stanley. Now, he trains at the institute's fitness room in Sha Tin on some weekdays and goes to the waterside in Stanley at weekends. Getting from his home in Tai Po to Stanley can take Adrian more than two hours if traffic is bad.

"I don't like the long commute, but training with the team is the only way to help me become outstanding," says Adrian.

"There is not much wind in the bay at Stanley. So I am less experienced with strong windy conditions, which puts me at a disadvantage in some overseas competitions." So the windier it gets in Stanley, the more he likes it.

Adrian's hard work has paid off. He won gold in both the under-17 Techno 293 category in 2011, and this year's under-19 RS:X category, at the Asian Windsurfing Championship.

The HKDSE candidate hopes to finish among the top five at the World Junior Championships in Limassol, Cyprus, in July.

"I set myself the same goal when I raced in the Techno class in San Francisco two years ago, but I finished eighth in the end," he says. "I could have done better if I hadn't hesitated when I needed to get a good position at the start of the race."

He has learned his lesson. "This year, I'll be more assertive and ambitious," Adrian says.

"I want to realise my dream at this year's RS:X class race, which is going to be the last junior race of my career. If I'm on good form, I may even win a medal."

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