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From Phuket Yacht Club to the Sydney to Hobart race

From Phuket Yacht Club to the Sydney to Hobart race

SAILING: When young Finn de Bruin started out sailing at the Phuket Yacht Club (PYC), he had no idea as to the kind of places that the sport would take him - and most certainly did not expect Hobart would be a future destination.

By Ben Tirebuck

Saturday 14 January 2023, 10:00AM

But that is exactly where he found himself on Dec 30th last year as he and his crewmates aboard the Beneteau 44.7 yacht Bowline successfully completed the world renowned Sydney to Hobart race.

The race, which starts on Boxing Day in Sydney Harbour, attracts huge media coverage each year, with the 628 nautical mile course often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part.

It was therefore a fantastic achievement for the 21-year-old Phuket-born yachtsman and his team to finish in 75th place overall – but 15th in IRC Div 3 – after an arduous challenge that took close to four days to complete.

Sailing was in Finn’s blood from a very early age as he accompanied his family on regular visits to the PYC and joined his father Andrew on numerous trips. His first such voyage was as a passenger from Phuket to Langkawi on SY Stargazer when he was just a young boy, closely followed by sailing from Australia to Phuket aboard the mighty Awatea, a 36-foot Swanson.

However, it was during his time at PYC under the tutelage of Alfie Rowson, who was heading the youth sailing program at the time, that Finn truly started to flourish.

Things only improved once Phuket sailing icon Scott Duncanson became commodore and his own children became of sailing age as PYC truly raised its standards. It was at this time that the Phuket Youth Sailing Club was afforded new boats and affiliations, which resulted in a more resilient sailing program.

Additionally, Ploypan Meeyousamsen, aka ‘Coach Garfield’, joined the team as instructor, organising regular training sessions, fun days out of the water, weekend getaways to islands and regattas to support the families and the budding sailors.

HeadStart International School Phuket

Sailing might not be for everyone but for children living on an island it is considered an ideal way to learn water skills and develop an understanding and appreciation of the ocean, while gaining independence and making friends. Indeed, many say the social side of the youth sailing club is as important as the sailing itself.
Knock, knock

Finn continued to develop and, on reaching his teens, was given the opportunity to race in local regattas, firstly on Lori Ashton’s Lunasea in the Phang Nga Bay regattas and later with John Newnham’s Firefly one design 850 Twin Sharks in the Multihull Solutions Regatta. Additionally, as a student at British International School, Phuket, Finn was further able to extend his passion of sailing through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

After graduating school, border closures and restrictions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Finn could not fulfill his dream of experiencing a gap year on Superyachts, so he decided to join the Australian Defense Force program and was eventually posted to Adelaide.

The age old adage states “if you don’t ask then you don’t get” and this was certainly the case with Finn who, while in South Australia, decided to take it upon himself to knock on boats and approach a variety of crews to explain his passion and inquire whether there may be any opportunities available.

Demonstrating how genuine initiative can be rewarded, a fabulous opportunity then presented itself when the commodore of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron, Ian Roberts, offered Finn the chance to join the crew of Bowline in the 2022 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The rest, as they say, is history. It was a priceless, unforgetable experience and surely just the start for the young man who will undoubtedly have many exciting and challenging endeavours on the waves in the years to come.

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