The 16-year-old, who hails from Johor and is a full-time athlete under the Malaysian Yachting Association development programme, was in the lead after the first six races.
However, he was overtaken by Thai sailor Natthawut Paenyam for the top spot after finishing fifth and fourth in Race 7 and 8. Amirul managed to cling on to the silver medal position with a total of 35 demerit points even though he managed eighth and fourth in the last two races of the competition.
It was the country’s second medal in the biennial Games after bodybuilder Sazali Samad won the gold in the men’s below 70kg competition on Friday.
Natthawut, who did not even complete the first race, enjoyed a strong run with two first and one second placings in the last four races to clinch the gold medal on 30 demerit points.
Pakistani Najeeb Khan took bronze on 48 while another Malaysian, Muhamat Harisfabillah, finished fifth on 58 demerit points.
Pre-race favourite, Keerati Bualong, the gold medallist for Thailand in the Guangzhou Asian Games last month, settled for seventh place on 66 demerit points.
Amirul represented Malaysia in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in August this year and the experience he gained there must have done wonders to his confidence.
As the youngest entry for the Open Laser Radial class, which is contested at the Olympics, Amirul’s performance even surprised coach Nor Hisham Mat Nor.
“It must be his experience at the Youth Olympics, which made him a much more mature sailor and better at adapting to conditions and addressing them well,” he said.
Chef-de-mission Datuk James Selvaraj took the boat out to sea to observe the races and he was impressed with what he saw.
“I am really proud of our sailors out there with the effort they put in, especially against much more experienced rivals,” he said.