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Where’s the new generation of sailors?



PHUKET: It was amazing how the ‘good old days’ stories kept popping up as I enjoyed after-race drinks at the Phuket Yacht Club (PYC).

I could overhear, again: “Wow, the old sailors are really into it (as always), but what about the new generation? Where are they?”

Well, they’re right under our noses, but are hardly seen or heard of. The reason is simply that all the stories, articles and online posts on regattas usually highlight boat names, the owners and the skippers – rarely is the crew mentioned – and guess where that new generation of sailors is… the crew, of course.

Mind you, that’s not always true; you can occasionally find the younger generation at the helm. That’s the case with Patinyakorn ‘Ging’ Buranrom. I first interviewed Ging in Bangkok back in 2013; what struck me is how passionate he was and still is. Having participated in the TRANSPAC as the first-ever Thai to do so, Ging is now looking for new, challenging international races while enjoying and winning regional regattas.

Ging also has an eagerness to bring sailing to more Thais, as a sport and hobby.

“Sailing is a very healthy sport and perfect to develop personal skills and teamwork,” says Ging.

And, talking about very young sailors, I have enormous respect for Katy Gooch Firmin and her husband Paul for coaching young Thai sailors – and that includes taking them to Wales for the Topper World Championship last year.

The young boys are ‘learning life through sailing’ as Katy so nicely puts it. They are orphans from the Sunshine Village and would never have had the opportunity to sail without Katy and her husband. The couple decided to teach these youngsters how to sail as a healthy activity, and a few years later, the boys are successfully competing in the National Optimist and Laser races throughout the region.

There you go, a new generation of Thai sailors ready to ride the waves!

— Ghislaine Bovy


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