Thai teen takes title at Laser District Sailing Championship

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Olympic hopeful Kamolwan Chanyim took top honors at the recent Laser District Championships held at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya over the weekend of December 13-14. 

The 18 year old national athlete and recent Asian Games and Asian Beach Games medalist did not bat an eyelid when faced with her highest wind regatta this year.  After eight races in up to 20 knots of wind, she managed a perfect 6 point overall finish with straight wins in all but two races, which she was able to discard under the racing rules.  Up-and-coming junior sailor Chusitt Punjamala did give her a run for the title however.

Kamolwan Chanyim (left) receives the championship winner’s trophy. (Photo/m.v.tchelistcheff)Kamolwan Chanyim (left) receives the championship winner’s trophy. (Photo/m.v.tchelistcheff)

The regatta began on Saturday, Dec. 13, with the strength of the wind disguised as the direction was slightly offshore.  As sailors headed out to the start line, it soon became apparent it would be a day for a few thrills and spills with wind gusting to 18 knots.  In the first race, Kamolwan and Chusitt led the fleet around the race course, taking the top two places over the finish line despite being in the smaller Laser Radial rig.

In the second race, the wind dropped slightly and there were some significant shifts up the first beat.  RVYC member and Laser fleet captain Chris Dando led around the first lap, then misjudged a gust up the second beat, ending up taking a long swim after capsizing.  This gave Beat Heinz of Switzerland and Laser Master Worlds competitor Shin Suenaga, both sailing the larger Standard rig, a chance to cross the line in front.  Kamolwan and Chusitt were not far behind though, winning the race after handicaps were calculated.

Three of the brightest prospects in Thai sailing: Chusitt Punjamala, Kamolwan Chanyim and Apiwat Sringam.Three of the brightest prospects in Thai sailing: Chusitt Punjamala, Kamolwan Chanyim and Apiwat Sringam.

Race Three ended with a similar result, but this time Shin managed to get the better of Beat.  A fourth race was squeezed in, despite aching limbs and weary, wet sailors unaccustomed to the wind, which was gusting up to 20 knots.  Kamolwan managed another first, bumping her to first overall although tied on points with Chusit.  It was equally close for third and fourth position, both Shin and Beat ending the day with 14 points.

Sunday arrived with the wind starting a little lighter, but as the day progressed it increased.  In the first race of the day, the RVYC’s Florent Herson got away from the start line well and led the fleet around the course.  Kamolwan was in top form, however, steadily gaining on Florent and passing him just before the finish line.  From then on she didn’t look back, and sailed excellently in the final three races to take a further three wins.  Chusitt was chasing hard, and scored a further three second places on handicap.

The fight for third and fourth overall was closer, with Shin and Beat exchanging blows right through to the end of the series.  Eventually Shin just managed to score one point less to take third overall and win in the standard class.

All in all, it was a great weekend of racing for those at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club.  The record for capsizes went to one-time Thai national Optimist sailor Mark Tchelistcheff, with consolation prizes handed out to 13-year old Chapapai Vijitkayee, who recently outgrew the Optimist, and 2014 Thai Youth Olympian Nichaporn Panmuean, both of whom are likely to make their mark in the fleet in years to come.