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World record sailing attempt planned for next week in Phuket

PHUKET: Phuket resident Yassine Darkaoui, originally from Morocco, will next week attempt his long-planned assault on the Guinness world record for the longest distance sailed in a Laser dinghy.

By Claire Connell

Wednesday 9 October 2013, 02:30PM

Yassine will attempt his world record next week.

Yassine will attempt his world record next week.

Despite the month of October being known for its bad weather – including rain and heavy seas – Mr Darkaoui aims to set off on the three-to-four-day challenge next Friday (October 18). However, depending on the weather forecast, he may leave a few days before or after this date.

He plans to leave Cape Panwa for Koh Tarutao in his Laser, on loan from the Royal Thai Navy, before sailing to the Similans, and then returning to Ao Yon – a triangular route covering a total distance of 370 nautical miles, or 685 kilometres.

The previous record is around 300 nautical miles (555 km) and was set by Mexican sailor and Olympian Tania Calles. Mr Darkaoui will aim for 370, not just to beat that number but also for logistical reasons.

“I have been waiting one and a half years already to find sponsors, and I don’t want to wait any longer,” he explained.

He will have a support boat alongside for the journey, with three skippers and three watchers on board – all Phuket people. His girlfriend Adelaide will also be on board to help.

“The seas are heavy and the winds are strong. But I have planned for every bad situation, so now I have to try and relax. Three days and nights is a very long time.”

The planned trip will see him leave Cape Panwa at 3pm, sailing through the night and arriving at Koh Tarutao at 10 am the following day, then heading north to reach the Similans 24 to 30 hours after that, before heading back to Cape Panwa.

He also wanted to complete the world record before the high season comes and the winds become fickle as the southwest monsoon gives way to to its northeast counterpart. The steady southwest wind will also allow him to reach – sail at right angles to the wind – for most of the journey, rather than having to head into the wind, which would require constant tacking – zig-zagging – and take a great deal more time.

“I think it will be hard, but fun. I will do my best to have fun and complete it.”


Phuket businessman Claude de Crissey has also sponsored Mr Darkaoui, supplying food for the journey and hosting the victory party at the end.

Mr Darkaoui decided to attempt the impressive task as a way to show that “it is possible to make your dreams a reality”.

He was a drug addict for more than eight years, but has been ‘clean’ and medication-free for the past two. He now says he’s a “dinghy addict” instead, and sails whenever he can.

“The main purpose of this is to show people it is possible to take control of their life again. It is possible to change the direction of your life and make your dreams a reality,” he told The Phuket News in March this year.

Mr Darkaoui has been sailing boats for the last 22 years, including the Laser for around two decades. He was in the Moroccan national Laser team, and now sails regularly in Phuket.

The world record attempt will need to be done under strict watch, with officials requiring GPS tracking records, videos and photos in order to confirm the attempt is legitimate.

All the documents to be submitted to the Guinness world record people, plus the journey itself, need to be verified by a witness – something Mr Darkaoui doesn’t think will be a problem.

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