On the final day of racing, Oct. 30, in Argentina, Thai sailor Voravong Rachrattanaruk won silver at the Optimist World Championship 2014, surprising the world as well as himself.
The youngster went onto the water placed sixth with a 20 point spread between himself and bronze, with silver considered to be out of reach. As Thai national coach Somkiat Poonpat said before racing started, “He needed to place in the top three in three races to have a chance of achieving third place.”
Voravong Rachrattanaruk sails to second place in the Optimist World Championship 2014 in Argentina, Wednesday, Oct. 30. (Photo/Matias Capizzano)
With racing delayed due to lack of winds, when the signal to launch finally came, the hope of having three races gave way to the reality that there would probably only be one race. Halfway through it, Voravong was in second, but he lost position and fell to fourth. On return to shore, he was calm and collected, the Thai team having already impressed the world by taking the Team Racing championship earlier in the week.
Coach Somkiat casually went to check results, only to find that Voravong’s fourth place finish lifted him to second overall in the individual racing results, three of those earlier ahead of him having dropped in the fleet.
Adding to the pride of the Thai team was the fact Suthon Yampinid, who finished fifth in the final race, ended the regatta in ninth position, and Nopporn Booncherd moved into 26th overall. For a team that had not participated in the most prestigious international Optimist regatta in two years, to have three sailors in the top 15% of the fleet of 207 boats was not only unanticipated but probably unprecedented.