'Yassine is set to go, but his mast is broken'
Last week we told how Andrew Lewis sailed a Laser from Tobago to Trinidad, a route which took him through open ocean and a distance of 50 nm. (See story) Now there's a Moroccan sailor, Yassine Darkaoui, who wants to sail a 150nm course from Phuket, round the island of Ko Ta Ru Tao and back to Phuket. There's just one problem - his mast is broken.
Andrew was an Olympian Laser sailor, and Yassine, 34, is no stranger to Lasers either. A science and IT graduate, he has represented Morocco at several World Laser Sailing Championships, and is a qualified sail trainer with his home club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tangier.
Yassine is attempting to beat the 2009 record held by Olympic bronze medalist, Australian Michael Blackburn, who sailed a Laser dinghy 117 nautical miles across Bass Strait (between the Australian mainland and Tasmania) in 13 hours.
Yassine will attempt a non-stop sail from Phuket around the island and back to Phuket again. - .. .
The purpose of the sail, apart from his personal challenge, is to draw attention to the evils of illegal drug-taking. This is a goal dear to his heart, owing to an earlier period in his life in Morocco, when he fell victim to drug-taking himself.
He says that he now wants to warn children in Phuket about the dangers of drug addiction and has recently shared his life experiences at HeadStart school, where he gave a brutally honest talk about drugs and their effects to year 9 and 10 students.
'The solution is not to put the addict in prison, the solution is to teach the young people that there are other ways to feel high,' said Yassine.
The other way to ‘feel high’ for Yassine is sailing, and the personal challenge he is about to embark on, he says, will be the most demanding sailing experience of his life.
He is currently training in Phuket for the maraton sail. 'Navigation at night is difficult,' he says, 'so I must sail with my feelings - but at night sailing is like flying, with both sky and water black, so I feel like I am flying.'
The other issue is stamina for the long course. 'I get some pain in the knees after 8 hours of sailing, so I have found it is good to rest for a few minutes every 6-8 hours.'
An unfortunate incident a few weeks ago set his program back. 'I broke the mast sailing in the north of Phuket, near Maiko. It is a very dangerous area with big waves and a very very dangerous and strong current. After the dismasting the waves took me to the beach. In trying to save the boat in the high surf, I broke a tooth and had two muscular tears.'
While Yassine has some sponsors for his challenge, they do not cover repairs, so Yassine is trying to raise the $700, a fortune in Thailand, to replace his mast.
'As soon as I have the mast replaced, I will plan the sail attempt after about two weeks.' In the meantime, he follows a careful diet and undergoes a intense training schedule with a fitness trainer.
You can follow Yassine Darkaoui on his website, or contact him at totemtech [at] gmail.com.
by Nancy Knudsen
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8:32 PM Sat 22 Dec 2012GMT
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