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Phuket man spends 77 hours in dinghy, breaks record

Phuket man spends 77 hours in dinghy, breaks record

PHUKET: A local expat has completed a gruelling sailing trip alone in a Laser dinghy, spending 77 hours on board the tiny boat and battling storms and severe pain.

By Claire Connell

Monday 2 June 2014, 11:23AM

Yassine Darkaoui, originally from Morocco, has been planning for around two years to beat the Guinness world record for the longest distance sailed in a Laser dinghy.

However, unable to organise a support boat (a requirement for a Guinness record), he had to settle for unofficially breaking the records for longest time spent in a Laser dinghy, and the Asia record for the longest distance sailed in a Laser dinghy in Asia.

Mr Darkaoui said the previous record for Asia was 50 nautical miles, and he managed to do 211. The current world record is around 300 nautical miles (555 km) and was set by Mexican sailor and Olympian Tania Calles.

Mr Darkaoui also says he broke the current record of 65 hours spend in a Laser dinghy – he spent 77 hours on his tiny boat.

He set off from Ao Yon at 12.20am on Wednesday (May 28), and headed to Phi Phi and Racha Islands. He returned to Phuket at various times, not touching land but collecting more food and water from a boat near Ao Yon, and checking in with his support team on the shore.

“I had no support boat, and I was avoiding storms. Every time I saw a storm coming I had to change my route.”

Although the records are not being officially confirmed, Mr Darkaoui said he will put all the GPS data on his blog site, for anyone who wishes to get more details or check his route.

“For the first maybe six hours I was scared, because I had a bad experience sailing around Racha before, and I was thinking I should stop. But after that six hours, I started getting more comfortable and I decided I should stay and enjoy it.

QSI International School Phuket

“It is part of the game, to feel scared and cold. It was scary because a lot of fishing boats don’t have lights. When there were storms and lightning, it was a bit scary because the dinghy is a very small boat. Many times I didn’t have cellphone reception, and it was impossible for me to call [for help].”

Mr Darkaoui ended up having to return to Ao Yon (he arrived around 5.20pm on Saturday) after suffering severe pain and bleeding buttocks, caused by the humidity, the salt water and the rain. He says he also suffered hallucinations.

“I had to wait a lot because there wasn’t much wind, and it was very difficult to sail. I had to sit in very uncomfortable conditions. Physically I was okay, it was more about the pain – it was just too much. I was bleeding.

“The last 15 or 20 kilometres I had to kneel, because I couldn’t sit anymore. I knew I already had the Asian record and the time record, so I decided to stop.”

Despite the discomfort and the lack of any official record, Mr Darkaoui is pleased with his efforts.

“It was a new experience, and it was a very good experience. If I could do it again I would, but now with more confidence.”

A celebration party will be held on Thursday (June 5) in Chalong. For more details, contact Mr Darkaoui on extremdinghy@gmail.com.

For more details and a full account of Mr Darkaoui’s journey, visit the Facebook page and blog.

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