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Yassine Darkaoui and the ‘Natural High’

by Sail-World Asia, Phuket Gazette, Phuket News on 2 Jun 2014
Andaman Laser Challenge. Yassine Darkaoui Yassine Darkaoui
77 hours is a damn long time to spend perched on a Laser. It may not earn Yassine Darkaoui any massive fame or fortune, or even a Guinness Record, but it certainly earns him a huge amount of respect from fellow sailors.

At 1720 last Saturday 31st May Yassine finished his Andaman Laser Challenge – standing up. By then he had sailed 211.85 nautical miles between Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Racha. Not a distance record beater, but a considerable achievement in its own right. 'It was always all about testing my own limits', said Darkaoui, 'and I exceeded my own expectations both mentally and physically. This is the end of one adventure, and the start of a new one.'

Yassine Darkaoui is a passionate sailor today, but he has a darker story to tell. Back in his native Morocco he was a drug-user from the age of 19 and eventually became a heroin addict. Now, he is a man who has been given a fresh start in life. 'To break a habit you have to be positive that the mind can be conditioned to new things. It is indeed possible to change the way your mind works.'




Before he started using drugs, Darkaoui was a member of the Moroccan National Laser Team. In Phuket he has rekindled his love affair with sailing, and says that spending time on the water is a form of therapy that helps keep his mind balanced.

He is now actively involved in warning children in Phuket about the dangers of drug addiction, and recently shared his experiences with pupils at HeadStart School, where he gave a brutally honest account of his life with drugs. 'The solution is not to put the addict in prison. The solution is to teach young people that there are other ways to feel high,' says Yassine. And one way for Darkaoui to ‘feel high’ is to go sailing.

He may have been feeling more weary than anything else after 77 hours of continuous day and night sailing in a Laser, but as Merle Haggard (almost) sang back in 1985, 'I’ll take to the sea on a natural high'. Official celebrations will take place at La Boucherie Chalong on its Opening Day, 5th June, attended by the Governor of Phuket, the French Consul-General and members of the media.

And why was Darkaoui standing up for the last 11nm? Because he had chafed all the way through his shorts and his skin… well, you get the picture. Ouch.


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