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Thailand Optimist National Championships - Pongsapat Pumyam victorious

by Chanut Nawnarong/ Nungruthai Julakul on 7 May 2013
Stunning racing conditions at the 2013 Thailand Optimist National Championships Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com
The 2013 Thailand Optimist National Championships presented by Sansiri drew to a close today with a fitting last race grandstand finale. Held over three days at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya, Thailand, 128 Thai and international youngsters lined up this year in what was a record fleet, with sailors from Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Thailand taking part.

Thirty-eight years old, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) started Junior Sailing, a programme to encourage and train young Thai sailors and send them to compete in international sailing events in 1976 and followed that in the same year with what was then called the Optimist Thailand Championship Cup.

Known today as the Thailand Optimist National Championships, they are as competitive and as desired as ever, with many leading Thai juniors, international teams and world champions competing for the title.

The Championships are the second oldest annual sailing event in Thailand and continue to develop youth talent and introduce more Thai youngsters to the sport of sailing. The proof of this was seen on the water over the last three days with some close racing in challenging conditions and an exceptionally high level of sailing.

Going into the last race of the last day, the title was within Thai youngster Suthon Yampinid's grasp. Having placed in the top five throughout, it was his to lose, and lose it he did with a ninth in the penultimate race and a tenth in the final race, dropping him to third overall and missing out on second place by a single one point.

Having only sailed one race on day two due to a storm followed by fickle winds, there three races on the last day, making the series a total of seven, proved critical to the overall positioning.

Despite Pongsapat Pumyam placing 27th in the penultimate race, which he could drop from his scoresheet, the 14-year old Thai junior had been finishing high in the standings throughout. He went on to finish the series in style with a first place in the last race to take the overall title and be crowned 2013 Thailand Optimist National Champion.

Second place went to Thai girl Kamonchanok Klahan, who was also top placed girl. Third overall went to Suthon Yampinid.

Second for the girls was Sutida Poonpat, relative of 2010 World Optimist Champion Noppakao Poonpat, who is another future Thai sailing talent. Third girls overall went to Praewa Kangkla.

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