The Sawadee.com Regatta Samui has a tradition of giving back to support the individuals and the community that hosts it – as well as encouraging and supporting youth sailing across the Asia region. And this year is no different, with two additional initiatives that will contribute significantly to the development of competitive sailing.
The Sawadee.com Regatta Youth Fund has announced a sponsorship of one of Thailand’s sailing hopefuls of the future – Ms Nattakaran Panyawan (known as ‘Garfield’). Garfield, aged 10, only began sailing in 2009 and entered her first regatta – The Admiral’s Cup – in January of this year where she received the ‘best beginner’ accolade. She has just returned from the Optimist Thailand Nationals at the Top Of The Gulf Regatta, where she was placed 19th overall in the U12’s Division.
Garfield comes from a family of sailors. Sa-ard, her uncle, represented Thailand in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and was a long time member of the Thai National Team. He was an Asian Windsurfing Champion and is a 5 times Gold Medal Winner at the SEA Games. Garfield’s brother – Nattapol, is also a competitive youth sailor, who will not doubt welcome the challenge from his younger sister.
Garfield, a member of The Yacht Club – Koh Samui, will be one of the many youth sailors that will compete in the 3rd running of the ‘Samui Junior Sailing Squadron Challenge’ that will take place on the racing rest day at the Sawadee.com Regatta. The challenge sees youth sailors in Optimist Class boats battling it out on a competitive course. Ironically, it was Garfield’s brother Nattapol who won the Samui Junior Sailing Squadron Challenge in 2009, with four wins out of four.
Singapore Management University Challenge
For the first time, the regatta will also welcome a crew from Singapore Management University (SMU). Courtesy of Sunsail Thailand, who is providing SMU with a Beneteau Cyclades 39 “Bussakorn”, the young yet experienced crew, will likely provide a formidable challenge in their division.
All year 1 and year 2 students, the SMU crew will be joined by its sailing alumni team who support with crew training and development of the SMU Sailing Programme in general. The skipper will be Singaporean Shaun Toh – a seasoned sailor of ten years who began sailing optimists and lasers and who moved on to keelboats last year. This is Shaun’s second visit to the Sawadee.com Regatta.
The SMU Sailing Club was established in 2003 by a group of 11 sailing enthusiasts and was the first tertiary institution in the keelboat-racing scene. The club, that has now grown to over 68 members, has competed in several events this year that include the Singapore Straits Regatta, The Royal Langkawi International Regatta and the recent Top Of The Gulf Regatta.
Andrew Tam, SMU Sports Officer, commented,
“this is young and dedicated team that trains extremely hard. With the exception of Shaun Toh, many of the crew will be competing in only their second or third regatta. With the kind support of Sunsail Thailand, the Sawadee.com Regatta will provide the crew from SMU with a great opportunity to compete against some the best sailing talent in the region”.
Sponsorship of rising stars and support for youth sailing in general are all part of the spirit of the Sawadee.com Regatta. However, the event is also about fun parties and fabulous social events and is firmly established as a ‘must attend’ event on the international sailing circuit. Sawadee.com is the principal partner of the regatta, with the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Singha as co-partners.
The first race of the regatta is on Monday 31st May, winding up a week later on the 5th June with a lavish end of regatta gala dinner at the Centara Grand.