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KEERATI SECURES OLYMPIC SAILING SPOT
Thai Sailor the only Asian to qualify for the Gold Fleet at the Laser Worlds 2012
Boltenhagen, Germany - It was a bitterly cold day with tricky light wind conditions in Boltenhagen, Germany, yesterday but Thai sailor Keerati maintained his focus, securing Olympic qualification with two finishes in the teens earning him a place in the Gold Fleet at the Audi World Laser Standard Seniors Championship (Laser Worlds).
The 19 year old originally from Nakhon Pathom was ranked an impressive 25th out of 168 sailors in the regatta at the end of the fourth day of racing in the the Laser Worlds, when competitors are divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets based on results of eight races. With a spot in the Gold Fleet, Keerati is assured of Olympic qualification, becoming the first Thai to qualify in the mens one person dinghy for the Olympics under current qualification rules. He is also the only Asian in the Gold Fleet of the Laser Worlds.
More notably, his results put him well ahead of other contenders for qualification with much more experience. Among the top Laser Standard sailors who also secured Olympic qualification for their countries yesterday were Ireland’s James Espey (28) in 30th place, Portugal’s former Olympian Gustavo Lima (35) in 36th place, Lithuania’s Rokas Milevicius (25) in 42nd place, and Tunisia’s Youssef Akrout (21) in 51st.
Fighting in the Silver fleet for the remaining 7 spots in the Olympic Sailing Competition are 9 countries. From Asia, Malaysia’s Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy and Japan’s Kenji Nanri are up against stiff competition from sailors representing Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Mexico, Trinidad, the US Virgin Islands, and Venezuala. From Singapore, Scott Sydney, who qualified the island state for the Olympics at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, and Cheng Colin are also sailing in the Silver fleet.
“I am proud of my achievement for Thailand,” said Keerati. “As the winds strengthen, it may be more difficult to stay in the top half of the fleet, but my goal for the next three days is the same, to continue to do my best.”
Keerati also wanted to thank the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) and the Laser Association of Thailand for supporting him in professionally preparing for this regatta, the final 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition Qualifying Round for the men’s one person dinghy class.
Keerati went into the Laser Worlds more prepared than he has ever been for a major international regatta. After two months of intense physical training sponsored by the Sports Authority of Thailand, he flew to Boltenhagen late last month for a week’s pre-event training with the support of the Laser Association of Thailand.
“Coming early enabled me to learn the local conditions, train with the best, and adjust to the cold,” he said. “While there is no strong tide, there have been big shifts in wind strength and direction, as well as strong gusts, which we had time to study. Going into the regatta, I had an advantage as I already knew which sides of the course the wind favours and how to rig my sail for top performance based on the local wind patterns.”
Also valuable has been the experience of pre-event training with the best, most top sailors also arriving early to learn local conditions.
“I was training alongside top ranked English sailor Paul Goodison as well as sailors from Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Spain and Trinidad,” said Keerati.
Such international competition usually challenges Keerati, whose past results in international regattas have not always reflected his achievements in Asia, where he is the current Asian Games and SEA Games gold medalist.
“Keerati came into this regatta in top physical and mental shape,” added his coach LCdr Veerasit Puangnak of the Royal Thai Navy, who sailed the Laser Standard in the Sydney Olympics when invited by organizers under the ‘wild card’ system. “Our investment on fitness made a noticeable difference in his strength as a sailor. Temperatures have ranged from 6-12˚C so we’ve also acquired warmer sailing gear to ensure his focus is on performing his best.”
Going forward towards the Olympics, hopes are to continue investing in physical fitness and pre-event training with upcoming regattas in Kiel, Germany, and Weymouth and Portland, England (where the Olympic Sailing Competition will be held). “Pre-event training is very important to allow Keerati to adjust to the temperature, train with good sailors, and learn local conditions,” said LCdr Veerasit.
The Laser Worlds continue until May 10th, with the Audi World Laser Radial Women’s Championship to follow May 15 to 20, in which Thai Laser Radial champion Kamolwan Chanyim will be sailing.
Additional information sources:
Laser Worlds Current Results at http://www.laserworldchampionship.com/fileadmin/medialib/dokumente/Regatta/Laser_WM_2012/results-8-race.pdf
Laser Worlds Organizer News
Laser World Entry List
For More Information
See www.KeeratiThaiSailing.com for more background.
For interviews, email "LCdr. Veerasit Puangnak" <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Story by Nima Chandler
Since 23 April 2010