Connect with us

Thai Life

On Deck: Local sailors making their mark

Published

 on 

PHUKET: In sailing circles, attention is more often than not focused on the big international sailing events full of professionals: the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, World Match Racing Tour etc. Locally though, and in the region, the focus is on the keelboat and multihull sailing events.

As I write this, my 30th column (yep, hard to believe), the Olympics is in full swing and it’s time to look at the ‘amateur’ sailors, or more importantly – dinghy sailors. More about that in a moment.

The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta – also the 30th annual meet – recently held the first event of the 2016 Phuket Dinghy Series, which was established a few years back by members of the organizing committee, who were keen to see dinghy sailing make a return to the regatta. The series has grown to become a training ground for young sailors in southern Thailand, including Phang Nga, Surat Thani and Songkhla.

Racing in Optimist and Laser classes, it was Phuket sailor Yada Hasap who won the Optimist class in the first of the three-event series. Tanakorn Kaewluan of the Songkhla Sailing Club won the Laser class.

Elsewhere, local sailors were making their mark at the 2016 Topper World Championships at Ballyholme in Northern Ireland. Katy Gooch took a team of three Thai sailors to the championship with strong local funding support to give these youngsters a shot at the big time. It was the first time overseas for some of the youngsters and likely the coldest place they had ever been. Imagine sailing in 14°C waters after training in Phuket’s warm waters.

The youngsters overcame the culture and temperature shock admirably with Paton Mervielde finishing third in the Topper 4.2 World Championship and Max Yuangngam crowned the winner. Yes, you read that right. Thailand won Gold and Bronze at the Topper World Championships – Max Yuangngam is the Topper 4.2 World Champion.

To be a world champion is a fantastic achievement in any sport and in a sport that is still very much in its infancy in Thailand – with little nationwide infrastructure or central government support – it is a fantastic achievement indeed, and one that deserves more recognition.

Thailand, to my knowledge, has only ever produced one individual sailing world champion in the past. That was Noppakao Poonpat. At the tender age of 15, he won the 2010 World Optimist Championship.

I’m writing this on day four of the 2016 Olympic sailing competition. Sailing conditions so far have been tricky and borderline insane. Representing Thailand are two youngsters in the Laser divisions: Keerati ‘Top’ Bualong in the Men’s One Person Dinghy (Laser) and Kamolwan ‘Bam’ Chanyim in the Women’s One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial).

There are four more races to go before the medal race so there is still plenty to play for. Nevertheless, that they have qualified for the Olympics is a significant achievement in itself.

Both are from the Sattahip schooling of youth sailing and have shown that the time and resources invested in them by the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) has not been wasted.

The YRAT has an impressive track record of success in Optimist sailing. It’s the envy of most Asian nations but still more needs to be done beyond the Optimist class. A nationwide infrastructure for sailing is needed.

For a young sailor in Phuket, Phang Nga or Krabi, or anywhere outside Sattahip, opportunities to learn sailing – and to then sail competitively – are very limited. Among those dedicated individuals making a difference are Katy Gooch and Paul Firmin, who run the Phuket Youth Sailing Club, and Alfie Rowson and Liz Schoch, of the Phuket Yacht Club Sailing Club.

Elsewhere in the south of Thailand, the Samui Yacht Club and Koh Phangan Youth Sailing (Surat Thani) are running sailing programs with Optimists and double-handed 420 dinghies. And there is the Sailing Club Hua Hin. All of these clubs offer dinghy sailing for youngsters and each is privately run by people who are passionate about the sport.

More are needed to nurture youth sailing in Thailand as it’s clear from recent results on the world stage that there is talent out there.

Duncan Worthington is a long time Phuket resident and through Infinity Communications (infinity-comms.com) consults to leading consumer brands, hospitality and marine clients in Thailand. In his ‘spare time’ he runs the marine portal www.MarineScene.asia. #OnDeckPhuket

— Duncan Worthington

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Crime1 hour ago

Court issues arrest warrant for Sia B’s father, the ‘real owner’ of Mountain B

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Tourism minister joins Full Moon Party on Koh PhaNgan

World2 hours ago

Monkeypox variants renamed to avoid offending people

Sponsored11 hours ago

British International School Phuket: Reflecting on 25 years of world-class education

Tourism2 hours ago

Thailand ranks as fourth most popular destination among Chinese travellers

Crime3 hours ago

Thailand sentences musician to 6 years for royal defamation

Central Thailand3 hours ago

Thai doctor slaps a 3 year old for swearing & refuses to treat him

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand records fifth case of monkeypox in Thai woman

Guides4 hours ago

Why you should visit a wellness retreat in Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Govt take a trip to the shroom to help Thailand’s depressed

Chiang Mai5 hours ago

E. coli contamination found at popular waterfall in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand

Travel5 hours ago

Impressive beachfront hotels to book in Phuket

Crime5 hours ago

Thai temple man charged with murder of alleged would-be robber

Travel5 hours ago

5 incredible beaches in Phuket to visit in 2022

Travel5 hours ago

Board game cafes in Bangkok to unleash your competitive streak

Cannabis5 hours ago

Cannabis is illegal on Khao San Road, officials call for crackdown

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending