Twenty three junior sailors aged between seven and fourteen descended on the Phuket Yacht Club last Saturday for a day of fun and excitement in the first O’pen BIC sailing challenge in Thailand. “We were certainly overwhelmed by the response” says the club’s Commodore, Scott Duncanson. “As this was the first time we have held a junior sailing regatta we were never quite sure how much interest we would receive given there are so many other sporting options on the island. I was most impressed with the creativity of some our regular sailing school participants and equally so by some of the children who had never ever stepped foot on a sailing dinghy before. Ella Stephens won the freestyle event with an act of amazing balance performing a handstand on the side of the boat, while 7 year old Ryan Duncanson won the fancy hat contest sporting a very cute pirate bandanna and eye patch. Some great prizes were on offer including sailing watches, sunglasses and free sailing tuition. Parents were also in on the fun and entertainment on board a pontoon, spectator boat generously provided to the club by Phuket local Billy Duff.
The O’pen BIC, often simply referred to as the Open Bic is a single handed sailboat designed for younger sailors. Developed by Vitali Design, the boat was launched in 2006 and is an International Class, as recognized by World Sailing. The ideal weight for a user of this boat is 30 kg – 65 kg but it can accommodate up to 80kgs, making it suitable for children and young teens, the same people who would sail Optimist dinghies but are looking for a more modern and exciting boat. Many pro-sailing nations around the world now consider the Open BIC as the first step on the pathway towards Olympic level sailing.
“The Phuket Yacht Club is Royal Yachting Association (RYA) certified and fully committed to developing Phuket’s sailing youth” said Mr. Duncanson. “We recently purchased an additional 3 boats bring our fleet total to eight and positive it will continue grow with the addition of privately owned boats too”. The PYC sailing school runs junior sailing sessions for children over the age seven every Saturday morning from 09:30, no previous sailing experience required but all participants must be able to swim.