Young local lady Noppakao Poonpat continued her rise to sailing stardom by securing a gold medal for Thailand last weekend with her win in the Optimist dinghy class at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
No stranger to success on the world scene, fifteen year old Noppakao was expected to be among the front runners in her event and she established an early lead on the opening day that left her opponents playing catch-up for the remainder of the regatta. Noppakao sailed a remarkably consistent series of races with her worst result being a 4th place finish.
It was a highly competitive contest in Guangzhou with Kimberly Lim (Singapore) taking the silver medal and Yuting Lu (China) the bronze. Lim had beaten Noppakao at the IODA Asian Championships this year in Pattaya but was forced to play second fiddle here at the Asian Games. Both junior sailors are expected to compete in a strong field at the Optimist Worlds being held in Langkawi, Malaysia, at the end of December where Noppakao will be defending her title.
On a golden day for Thailand at the Games (the kingdom won 6 golds on the day) some other local sailors also featured in the success stories. First up was 18-year- old Kirati Bualuang, the 2009 Laser Radial Youth World Championships winner, who dominated the men’s Open Radial race here at the Shanwei Water Sports Centre to take the gold medal.
Also striking gold on the water for Thailand were 40-year old skipper Damrongsak Vongtim and his brother Kitsada, both from Sattahip, who defended their title in the men’s Hobie 16 class. In the windsurfing Ed Boonsawad, well known to sailors at Jomtien beach, was able to garner a silver medal in the men’s RSX division while 16 year old Sarocha Prumprai and Napali Tansai took bronzes in the women’s RSX and women’s Mistral classes respectively.