Aussies, India reign supreme in 2002 Laser Regatta

Malaysian Mohd Romzi bin Muhamad drives hard.
Malaysian Mohd Romzi bin Muhamad drives hard.

This week, as we take a look at past sporting events, we rerun an international event back in 2002 written by our favorite sports contributor Peter Cummins, whose pen is always mightier than the sword.

As the 2002 Asian Pacific Laser and Radial Laser Championships, sailed off the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in South Pattaya concluded, heavyweight Aussies Nicholas Skulander and Richard Scarr squeezed erstwhile leader, Singaporean Benedict Tan into third place in the vital last three races of the Laser full rig division.

With six first places, a second, third and fourth in the nine races counted out of the eleven sailed, Nicholas, on 15 penalty points, was well ahead of compatriot Richard’s 28-point score. The wily Ben, who has survived many a close Laser encounter in various parts of the region, finished just one point behind Scarr. First Thai, Olympic sailor and multiple Laser national champion of Thailand Verasit Puangnak was fourth on 33, with Indian skipper Sandeep Srikant making a late bid by winning two of the last three races to finish fifth on 36 points. Rounding out five nations in the first six places was Japan’s fine sailor, Youichi Lijima on 43.


In the Radial Division, India’s ace sailor, Rajesh Choudhary, with two firsts, five seconds, a third, fourth and fifth placing, for a total of 24 penalty points in the 10 races counted out of the 12 sailed, easily won the in the Radial Laser Division from Singapore’s Leong Koh Seng (30), with fellow-Singaporean Stanley Tan Kheng Siong third on 38, just one point ahead of first Thai sailor, Chulapong Chanyim (39).

Japan’s Noriaki Tanaka (61) was fifth, with Thailand’s first Lady sailor, Siri Chandler who had sailed brilliantly in the lighter conditions, but was overwhelmed when the anemometer reached the 12 plus level, sixth. As in the full rig division, the Radials featured five different nationalities in the first six.


In some ways, the just-finished regatta was a ‘re-run’ of the Asia-Pacific Laser Regatta held on the lake, Hussein Sagar, a waterway dominated by two Indian cities, Hyderabad and Secunderbad, raced in May last year when Royal Varuna’s Morton Jakobsen brought the honours back to Thailand, narrowly defeating Indian champion Rajesh Choudhary. Of course, the alert Pattaya Mail special correspondent diligently reported this in the Mail (Vol IX, # 23, 6 June 2001).

Rajesh, although second in the open division then – a place behind Morton, emerged as the clear Asian Pacific Laser Radial Division champion.

This time around, however, Rajesh was undoubtedly top of the Radial Division, but he could not have his ‘revenge’ on Morton who competed in the regular (full-rig) Laser Division. Two other competitors this time who were also rivals in India, were second-placed Aussie Richard Scarr and ‘wee Scot’ Neil Semple.

This “Songkran” regatta is the third time that a Laser Championship has come to Pattaya. The first was in 1984 which incorporated a World Masters Division and then the “Loy Krathong” regatta held in October 1998.

The regatta featured minor sections, of which there were six: Apprentices Age 35-44; Masters 45-54; Grand Masters, 55-64; Great Grand Masters, 65 plus; Youth, sailors under the age of 19 and, of course the Women’s Division. The categories, furthermore, are not mutually exclusive: for example a lady could win the Radial, the Youth and, of course the Lady section. A Youth, on the other hand, could win the full-rig or radial division as well as the Youth if he is male but, unless he has a drastic operation, he cannot win the Ladies division.

The just-ended regatta has been, in fact, a great tribute to the Royal Varuna Yacht Club’s management skills: Al Chandler, the man in charge of the enormously-complex details of the land-based activities and Lawnin Crawford, the man in charge of the equally-challenging events out there on the water.

Normally, to prepare for an event of such international scope, a year or more is required. Royal Varuna had but four months’ notice when the original venue reneged. Paul Milsom, the Laser man in Australia, came a week in advance to prepare Varuna Club boats for charter.

Eventually some forty participants joined the regatta – “one of the best ever” according to one Laser veteran – coming from seven countries to join host country Thailand: Australia, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar Singapore and, out- of-region entry, Uganda.

Results Box if needed (attached)

Results 2002 Asia Pacific ChampionshipsLaser Full Rig (top 12)1. Nicholas Skulander (AUS, 15); 2. Richard Scarr (AUS, 28); 3. Benedict Tan (SIN, 29); 4. Veerasit Puangnak (THA, 33); 5. Sandeep Srikant (IND, 36); 6. Youichi Lijira (JPN, 43); 7. Manat Pothong (THA, 55); 8. Stanley Chan Hian Gee (SIN, 69); 9. Mitsuhiro Okubo (JPN, 88); 10. Morton Jakobsen (THA, 91); 11. Shuo Liang Koh (SIN, 95); 12. Frank Theeuwen (THA, 96)Laser Full Rig Apprentices(35-44 Years): 1. Veerasit Puangnak (THA); 2. Morten Jakobsen (THA); 3. Frank Teeuwen (THA); 4. Neil Semple (THA). Masters (45-54 years): 1. U Tiha (MYA). Grand Masters (55-64): 1. Paul Milsom (AUS); 2. A.T Chandler (THA); 3. Barney Lloyd Smith (THA). Youth (under 19): 1. Mitsuhiro Okubo (JPN); 2. Shuo Koh Liang (SIN)Laser Radial Rig (top 10)1. Rajesh Choudhary (IND, 24); 2. Leong Koh Seng (SIN, 30); 3. Stanley Tan Kheng Siong (SIN, 38); 4. Chulapong Chanyim (THA, 39); 5. Noriaki Tanaka (JPN, 51); 6. Siri Chandler (THA, 54); 7. Mohd Romzi bin Muhamad (MAS, 56); 8. Takayuki Harada (JPN, 60); 9. David Leung Kwok Tung (HK, 64); 10. Marco Miagostovich (THA, 76).Laser Radial Rig Apprentices1. Sarah Searle (UGA). Masters: 1. Takayuki Harada (JPN); 2. Marco Miagostovich (THA); 3. Gary Martin (AUS). Youth: 1. Leong Koh Seng (SIN); 2. Mohd Romzi bin Muhamad (MAS); 3. David Leung Kwok Tung (HK); 4. Sinsupha Wannasuf (THA); 5. Schuyler Rockey (THA); 6. Pongpicha Chatasaeneey (THA). Ladies: 1. Siri Chandler (THA); 2. Sinsupha Wannasuf (THA); 3. Tin Thiri Aung (MYA); 4. Quek I-Gek (SIN); 5. Sarah Searle (UGA).