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Turkish delight for Thai youth sailor

Turkish delight for Thai youth sailor

SAILING: Thai sailor Weka Bhanubandh delivered a storming final day of fleet racing to win the individual youth category at the 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championship in Turkey on July 7.

By Ben Tirebuck

Sunday 17 July 2022, 02:00PM

Weka (centre) on his way to victory during the final day of sailing in Bodrum, Turkey, on July 7. Photo: Sports Association of Thailand

Weka (centre) on his way to victory during the final day of sailing in Bodrum, Turkey, on July 7. Photo: Sports Association of Thailand

The sailing tournament for single-handed dinghies was held from June 27 to July 7 and saw 276 sailors from 61 countries compete.

The famed white houses of Bodrum provided the iconic background as high winds made for perfect sailing conditions which gave the participants an unforgettable experience throughout the week-long competition.

Weka, 15, started the final day in sixth place behind race leaders Danyil Mykhailichenko of Ukraine in first place, Sweden’s Henric Wigforss in second and James Pine of the United States in third.

However, indifferent form from many of the top sailors saw the Thai youngster turn on the style and leapfrog five places to finish in top spot and claim the gold medal with a total of 96 points from his 12 races across the week-long competition.

Weka edged Pine by one point to take the top prize, with the American securing the silver medal. Italy’s Francesco Carrieri finished in third to claim the bronze medal.

Also representing Thailand at the event were Chanathip Thongklam, who finished 28th, Nawatorn Suphaumphonwit, who finished 60th, Pitipoom Charoenphon, who finished 78th and Phacharapun Ongkaloy, who finished 79th.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha congratulated the entire team for their performance in Turkey, saying he was proud that they had helped boost Thailand’s reputation on the global stage. He further thanked the coaches and associated agencies for their support and emphasised that the government is always willing to assist in the development of youngsters in sport to provide them the chance to achieve their goals and become champions of tomorrow.

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Turkey’s Medine Havva Tatlıcan won the girl’s race, followed by Chrysoula Kanellou Kokkinaki of Greece and Joana Freitas of Brazil.

The Award Ceremony on the final day took place at the historic Bodrum Castle, one of Bodrum’s most well-known historical monuments.

Weka’s win followed on from the excellent form he and his compatriots demonstrated at the Trofeo Marco Rizzotti warm-up match in Italy on May 19-22, in which all of the five Thai sailors competing finished in the top five places, for which they received the tournament’s Fair Play Award.

Weka had previously won the Thailand Optimist National Championship and European Optimist Championship in 2020. Last year he won the 2021 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Championship before securing top spot in the Admiral’s Youth Cup 2021 at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya.

After the win in Pattaya he told the Bangkok Post, “I am really happy with my performance this year. I’ve trained many hours and put in lots of effort into my training to get this far.

“I believe if you put enough time and effort into reaching a goal, you could accomplish that goal or at least feel happy with your results. Now I am aiming to qualify for the World Championships and eventually reach the world podium. I am working hard towards making it all happen.”

Weka’s hard work and determination certainly paid off as he achieved that goal and took his place as the winner on the podium in Bodrum on July 7.

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