Top two sailors re-crowned in National Championships

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After a weekend of high performance racing at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya, Keerati Bualong and Kamolwan Chanyim retained their titles as national champions in their respective Olympic class sailboats.

In the Laser Standard, Keerati, 21, almost effortlessly reclaimed the title of National Champion for the fifth time over the weekend of February 22-23.  His talented Sattahip training partner and friendly rival Supakon Pongwichean lifted only one bullet point off the Olympian, finishing a respectable second.  Former Dart world champion Gareth Owen took third place ten points behind.

Keerati Bualong (left) and Kamolwan Chanyim (right) with the RVYC’s Malee Whitcraft.Keerati Bualong (left) and Kamolwan Chanyim (right) with the RVYC’s Malee Whitcraft.

The leading lady of the fleet, Koravic Bhanubandh, finished an impressive 7th overall, and Charlie Zbinden was named top Laser Great Grand Master (a title reserved for those aged 65 and up), age being no limit in the light conditions.

In the Laser Radial fleet, which uses the same hull but a slightly smaller sail for sailors of lighter weight, the Kingdom Property sponsored Kamolwan Chanyim, 18, finished second behind visiting Singaporean Jevyn Ong after overcoming the first day’s challenge by current European Grand Master Champion Max Hunt of the UK and taking first place from Jevyn in two of the final day’s races.  She had secured her title for the third time on the first day however as the top Thai national in the fleet, finishing the first four races well ahead of Sattahip’s sailing sisters Kanapan and Yanakamin Pachatikapanya.

Top Laser Radial sailors (from L to R): Neil Dunkley, Kamolwan Chanyim, Jevyn Ong and Max Hunt.Top Laser Radial sailors (from L to R): Neil Dunkley, Kamolwan Chanyim, Jevyn Ong and Max Hunt.

The event welcomed sailors from the UK, Myanmar, Singapore, Japan, and Sweden, setting the bar high for those after a podium finish.

Wind proved initially elusive on the first day of racing, only just filling in enough to race by the noon start.  Sattahip’s Keerati quickly showed he was in top form with his first win of the weekend.  The RVYC’s Gareth did his best to keep him in sight and finished second.

The second race saw the race committee resort to a black flag start as the tide was pushing the boats over the line.  Two boats still fell afoul of being over the line and were duly penalized, as Supakon followed Keerati home.

At the start of the third race it was fun and games at the pin end of the start line with one incident resulting in the only protest of the weekend.  Supakon managed to take a win in the third race, but Keerati was close behind.  The final race of the day reverted to form with Keerati followed by Supakon, but this time chased home by Don Whitcraft.

In the Radial, Singapore’s Jevyn showed off his masterful boat speed skills to take three firsts and a second on the first day.  Just behind, there was a tight battle for second place between Max and Kamolwan.  Max starred in the third race, taking a race win.  Kamolwan fought back to finish in front of Max in the last race of the day, but both allowed Kanapan to get through to second to follow Jevyn across the line.

Royal Varuna Yacht Club a hive of activity on race weekend.Royal Varuna Yacht Club a hive of activity on race weekend.

The tide was a bit stronger for Sunday’s early start, but there was enough wind to get the racing underway.  In the Standard, the domination of the top two continued.  They were obviously enjoying the light to medium wind and catching shifts up the first beat, getting across to the right side where a little extra wind and a lift paid off.  Behind them, the RVYC’s Chris Dando and Don Whitcraft took third places in the first three races of the day.

For the final race of the championship, both Keerati and Supakon decided they had secured the top spots and went home for an early shower.  Again the right of the beat paid and it was Japanese Shin Suenaga who led round the first mark.  He was chased by the UK’s Peter Young with the rest of the pack bunched together behind.  Eventually Peter managed to run Shin down and take the lead downwind to win the final race of the Championship.

Also on Sunday, the top of the Radial fleet saw a great battle between Jevyn and Kamolwan, the young sailors showing the more experienced mariners chasing them just how to do it.  Four races were sailed and both took two wins and two seconds.