Duncan Gregor looks ready to become Hong Kong’s next big sailing sensation – and he’s only 13-years-old.
“I started sailing at the age of four and started racing at the age of seven,” said King George V School (KGV) student Duncan, who won the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Sharks’ Performance Sailor of the Year Award in 2016. “I have loved this sport since the day I started.”
Sailing is a popular hobby in our harbourfront city and always has been, but Duncan is part of a wave of talented local youth that are aspiring to compete in the sport professionally.
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He’s been a prodigy since day one, winning the Tom Larmour Award for Most Promising Young Sailor in 2015, and the Hong Kong Nationals in 2016. Duncan is also coming off an incredible ninth place finish in the Youth Championships in Thailand, having snatched the position from the hands of the other 281 sailors that took part.
He recently competed in the Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championships, which was held in Hong Kong for the first time. Even though he got eighth overall and was the top Hong Kong boat, he wasn’t happy with his performance. “It was a great experience, but I hope to do better next year,” said Duncan.
The KGV student has now dedicated himself entirely to the sport of sailing. “I used to play rugby but I had to stop due to an injury,” he explained. “Sailing is just too important to me. Having to take time off sailing because of my injury was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.”
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Duncan added he finds it challenging balancing school work and maintaining his sailing skills. “I train every weekend at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and after school whenever I can,” he said. “I don’t have much time to do anything else but sailing in my free time.”
Still, his burning passion for the sport makes it all worth it. “I love this sport so much. It has so many aspects to it,” he said, noting that the competitiveness and the excitement that takes place during races is tough to find anywhere else. “It’s mentally stimulating while also being very physically demanding.
“I also like the tactical, strategic part of sailing, because there are so many things you have to think about, like the weather, the current, and the performance of the boat,” Duncan continued. “Anything can happen during a race.”
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Duncan knows there’s still a long way to go before he can achieve his dream of becoming a professional, but with the biggest sailing event in the world – the Volvo Ocean Race – set to come to Hong Kong for the first time at the end of the month (where local sailors Kit Cheng and Tiger Mok are expected to compete), he believes he can do it.
Duncan is now looking ahead to the Youth World Windsurfing Championships in Cyprus next month, and hopes his efforts there and in the future will play a major part in the growth of the sailing culture in Hong Kong.
His advice to fellow young sailors is simple: “Just enjoy it and keep practising.”