Sailors Tested by Conditions at 2021 Asians & Oceanians
Waves up to 1.5m, a strong current and winds of 11-13 knots put youth sailors to the test today at the 2021 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Team Racing Championship being held at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya, Thailand.
Going downwind, sailors had to use all their body weight to swing their boats over the tops of giant waves to maximize speed when surfing down into the troughs, where many momentarily disappeared from sight before climbing up the next wave. In the first race, with the current working against them, several sailors in congested roundings were thrown against the windward mark, forced to perform penalties once clear. In the second race of the day, the wind picked up during the downwind resulting in several capsizes and nose dives. In the third race, a cooler breeze started to come in near the end, signaling a new wind direction due to make tomorrow, the final day of the regatta, a whole new day of testing conditions.
Although sailing from his home club and familiar with local conditions, even top Thai sailor Weka Bhanubandh was challenged. He found himself in the middle of the fleet in one race, finishing 24th in race seven based on preliminary results, but he redeemed himself with his first race win of the regatta in race eight, securing his lead overall for at least one more day.
Turkey’s Ege Erdemli shunted the USA’s Wylder Smith from second overall, topping his two earlier wins with impressive 2nd and 3rd places in the day’s three races.
Thailand’s Chanatip Tongglum slipped into third overall when he secured a third 2nd place finish in the regatta, proving he has what it takes to step onto the podium at Friday night’s prize-giving ceremony.
“Overall, it was a wonderful day of sailing again,” said commentator and RVYC instructor Alex Frefel who has narrated the event’s Facebook Live feed most of the week. “We had great wind all day and a big swell. The current was very strong in the first race resulting in a huge banana effect on the start line and a struggle to pass the windward mark, a lot of sailors accepting penalties just to get around.”
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