Phuket Sport: Isan skipper faces Pacific Ocean test
Tanyaluk Sakoot
Saturday 29 June 2013

SAILING: A young sailor who followed his dreams from landlocked northeast Thailand to the shores of Phuket will soon embark on the voyage of a lifetime, when he takes part in the Transpac 2013 ocean race from San Francisco to Hawaii next month.

Racing pair: Sansiri co-skippers Patinyakom ‘Ging’ Buranrom (left) and Michael Spies, the yacht’s owner.

“Find something you love and do it,” says 29-year old Patinyakom Buranrom, known as ‘Ging’, who comes from Mahasarakham province, in the heart of Thailand’s northeastern Isan region.

After studying in Bangkok, he moved to work in Phuket – where he was introduced to sailing for the first time, and was especially impressed by the role of captain on the large ocean-going yachts.

Soon Ging started sailing with friends from his workplace, and competing as racing crew in the annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta races.

Now he’s about to achieve his dream of deep ocean racing when he represents Thailand as co-skipper of the 40-foot yacht Sansiri in the Transpac race, alongside Sydney-Hobart Race veteran Michael Spies, the Sansiri’s owner.

The Sansiri team, sponsored by giant Thai property developer Sansiri PLC, will compete against 58 boats and some of the best sailors in the world when they leave San Francisco on July 8 and race for the finish line at Honolulu, a distance of 2,225 nautical miles (4,100 km) across the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Patinyakom left Phuket for the United States last week, to complete the team’s preparations for the race.

“I am so excited about this,” he told The Phuket News before his departure.

“I’ve joined about 20 to 30 racing competitions in Asia, and the Phuket King’s Cup was the largest, but now the Transpac 2013 race will be the best of my life.”

“This race is a long way and the co-skippers take turns sailing the boat. The whole race could take 12 to 14 days, because we can’t just sail directly to our destination, but have to plan our course depending on the weather and the wind.”

Mr Patinyakom said he was honoured to be the Thai co-skipper of a foreign professional crew, and said they were one of the top teams in the Transpac race this year.

Life on the boat during the race will be strict, with the crew members getting only two to four hours sleep per watch. To save weight and maximise speed, the Sansiri is racing with just five crew members, instead of the usual eight: navigator Richard Hudson, helmsman Hugh Haliburton, Wayne Powell on foredeck, and Mr Spies and Mr Patinyakom as co-skippers.

Other weight saving measures include rationing food and water, and bathing in sea water.

“There are many techniques we’ve prepared. If our boat is lighter, then absolutely our boat can be faster than the others.”

Sansiri PLC’s social director Ob-Oom Chutrakul said the group had chosen Mr Patinyakom as co-skipper of the Sansiri to compliment the skills of Mr Spies.

“Sansiri is Michael’s boat, and Sansiri PLC support the security and equipment on the boat through Michael. Michael has experience in many competition but in this competition he has not had success yet.”

“Micheal would only choose Ging [as co-skipper] and since I didn’t want to lose this opportunity I found the budget to support them. And I believe they can win,” Mr Ob-Oom said.