Panwa Boonnak crowned Thailand Optimist National Champion

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Thailand’s premier youth sailing event, the Thailand Optimist National Championships, came to a close last Sunday after three days of racing and conditions-wise, a bit of everything – storm, thunder, lightening, rain and fickle, shifty breeze.

Panwa Boonnak (centre), winner of the 2017 Thailand Optimist National Championships at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya, lifts the trophy aloft having been presented it by Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich (left), President of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand. (Photo/Guy Nowell)
Panwa Boonnak (centre), winner of the 2017 Thailand Optimist National Championships at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya, lifts the trophy aloft having been presented it by Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich (left), President of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand. (Photo/Guy Nowell)

A 76-strong fleet lined up for this the forty-second edition of the championships with sailors from Thailand, Hong Kong, Costa Rica and India competing.

The best two results from three races on Day 1 determined Fleets A and B, and at the end of the first day it was Thai duo Panwa Boonnak and Jedtavee Yongyuennan who were battling it out against Costa Rican youngster, Mic Mohr, and Duncan Gregor (HKG) for the top places.

Boonnak and Yongyuennan came into the Nationals confident of a good performance following their first and second overall at the 2017 Hua Hin Regatta just one week before, and both got off to a good start.

2017 Thailand Optimist National Championship winners and medalists pose for a group photo at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya, Sunday, May 7. (Photo by Guy Nowell)
2017 Thailand Optimist National Championship winners and medalists pose for a group photo at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya, Sunday, May 7. (Photo by Guy Nowell)

Following the second day of racing a 5,1,1 scoreline saw Boonnak holding a one point lead over Yongyuennan with Gregor – a second place finisher last year – still in striking distance just four points back.

It’s the first time the event has attracted sailors from Costa Rica and the three young relatives appeared to enjoy the challenging conditions.  Following a third place at Hua Hin Regatta one week prior, Mic Mohr was looking to improve on that at the Nationals and having competed in more than 100 regattas already in his young sailing career, Mic has big plans for the future.

“In the future I want to be the World Champion. In the Optimist first and then later, Laser.”

In Fleet B, after two days of racing the top four places were dominated by Thai sailors – Thippawan Khumpinit, Tanakorn Bunekarat, Vimutti Klinsukontac and Christopher Marsh respectively.

Going into the final day on Sunday the weather forecast was predicting an early afternoon squall, and right on cue it arrived, sending the fleet back to shore to wait out the worst of it.  After a brief rest, sailors were back on-the-water and eager to get going, however, with time against and weather conditions against them, just two races for Fleet A completed and one for Fleet B.

In Fleet A, it was looking like the result would be decided in the Jury room after Jedtavee Yongyuennan lodged a protest to have Race 8 (the final race) removed from the series.  After some deliberation by the Jury, the protest was thrown out and the race result stood, and with that a new Thailand National Optimist Champion was crowned – Panwa Boon­nak.  Yongyuennan was gracious in defeat and was again the bridesmaid while Mic Mohr finished third and Duncan Gregor fourth.

In Fleet B, Thippawan Khumpinit held off a spirited challenge from Tanakorn Bunekarat and Vimutti Klinsukontachat who finished second and third respectively.

Launched in 1976, the Thailand Optimist National Championships is part of the annual Top of the Gulf Regatta and is as competitive as ever, regularly attracting top youth sailors from Thailand and around the world.

Note: A full review of the 2017 Top of the Gulf Regatta will be featured in next week’s Pattaya Mail.

(Source: Infinity Communications)