Obituary: S'pore sailing pioneer and SEA Games champion Lock Hong Kit dies at 74

SINGAPORE – Lock Hong Kit, one of Singapore’s sailing pioneers, died on Saturday (June 20) of prostate cancer. He was 74.

Along with others like Julian Yeo, James Tham and Tan Tee Suan, Lock paved the way for many generations of local sailors.

He won two medals – a gold and bronze – at the 1973 and 1975 South-east Asian peninsular (Seap) Games and a gold medal at the 1983 SEA Games. He also competed in no fewer than six classes at international regattas.

Tan, who won a bronze medal with Lock in the Fireball class at the 1975 Seap Games in Bangkok, said: “He’s a great person and a very good friend. He was someone who was very knowledgeable and kept himself informed.

“This is a big loss for the sailing community.”

They had met several years before the Games at an annual outdoor camp for teachers and since then, the duo’s love for the outdoors brought them on many adventures in other sports including canoeing and scuba diving.

They had initially picked up sailing as a recreational activity in their late 20s, and went on to represent Singapore in competitions.

Lock was also the team manager and coach at several major Games, including the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima.

Veteran sports administrator and former national sailor Ng Ser Miang said: “Kit belongs to the pioneer generation of sailors. He shared the joy of sailing with youths and coached many of our national sailors and inspired them to become champions.

“He was well respected internationally for his integrity and strength of character. He dedicated his whole life to education. More than that he was a friend, a sailing father and a loving husband. He shall be sadly missed by all of us.”

Lock leaves behind his wife Molly Tan, daughters Joanne and Julie and their families.

Even when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago, Joanne said that Lock still tried to be independent and not worry those around him.

When he was admitted to Seng Kang Hospital on June 6, Lock was still reassuring his family over video call.

Joanne, a former national sailor, said: “He’s been the pillar of support in the family and has given us a fantastic life. My sister and I are mothers, but he was still our confidant.

“He made sure that everything was settled for us and never once did we have to worry about anything knowing that he was around.”

Para-sailor Jovin Tan, who was coached by Lock for about seven years, remembers him as a strict, no-nonsense coach, but also a friend he could turn to.

At the International Association for Disabled Sailing Two-Person Keelboat World Championship in Singapore in 2008, Lock booked a room for Tan and his sister, who was his caregiver, at SAF Yacht Club Changi so that he would not have to travel too far to compete.

He said: “I learnt a lot of things from him and I always looked up to him. He had an open heart to accept us and took the effort to learn about what we could do and couldn’t do.”

Three-time Olympian Siew Shaw Her recalls how he would look forward to meeting Lock, who would greet him with a pack of cold beer after his races, using that as a motivation while he was on the water.

The six-time SEA Games gold medallist said: “He’s so sharp that he’s able to point out the things that make a lot of difference to your development. He was also good at handling a team with two different personalities.

“He’s the most instrumental person who has brought me my success.”

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