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Patinyakorn “Ging” Buranrom

spoke with us via Skype from Waikiki, Hawaii, shortly after completing the TRANSPAC 2013 regatta, making history by becoming the first Thai skipper to race this major international ocean sailing competition. Here, he reveals how his love of sailing was sparked as well as his efforts to bring more of his fellow countrymen into the sport.

September 2013

Please tell us more about the TRANSPAC race.
TRANSPAC is a 4,100-kilometre race across the Pacific Ocean that starts near Los Angeles and finishes in Honolulu, Hawaii. With co-skipper Michael Spies and our crew aboard the Sansiri, a Tripp 40 design, we placed third in division 7 with a time of 12 days, 14 hours and 30 minutes, sailing under the banner of the Ao Chalong Yacht Club. We started out fast with strong winds early on – I was hungry as we had no time to eat. But later on, because of a high pressure system called the Pacific High, there was no wind, which really slowed us down in the last few days.

How did you feel after completing the race?
The race was great. Unforgettable. It felt very good to be the first Thai skipper in an international ocean race.

Can you tell us more about your fellow crew members?
I sailed with co-skipper Michael Spies, who is one of the top-ranked navigators of the world, as well as three crew – all professionals, who have won five world championships between them. Everyone was working hard. Michael really wants to win a world championship, and he’d never raced the TRANSPAC, which is the oldest offshore ocean race in the world. He found the boat, we bought it, and then we found the crew. In Thailand we have many good sailors, so I was proud to have the opportunity to join this team. Richard Hudson is an excellent navigator, the top sailing navigator in the world. At the helm was Hugh Halliburton and Wayne Powell was at the mast. This was the first race we sailed together.

This was quite a big race to do for the first time. Did it pose any unexpected challenges for you?
Sailing with one American and three Australians... they all speak English but everyone has a different accent. So it was sometimes difficult for me to understand them.

What’s next for you in competitive sailing?
For this year we plan to race in the Asian Yachting Circuit, maybe the China Coast Regatta, the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, Singapore, Malaysia and maybe another ocean race. I think we’ll come back to Phuket for the King’s Cup Regatta too. I also race with an all-Thai crew on my boat, Sansiri Oh La La and will probably do more racing with them.

What’s your favourite Regatta in Asia?
The best regatta for me is the Phuket King’s Cup, and I would be very proud to someday win this race. For Thai people, because the race is named after our King, who was a great sailor himself, it would be a great honour to win.

You’re living in Phuket now. When did you arrive here and where did you live before?
I’ve lived in Phuket for five years. I’m from Mahasarakham province in the Northeast, and I was living in Bangkok before moving to Phuket. I first came here on holiday and decided I wanted to live here.

When and how did you get into sailing?
I started sailing after moving to Phuket with my friend at the Ao Chalong Yacht Club. The first time I sailed just for fun, but soon realised that I really loved it. There are so many things I enjoy about it: you can go around the world with the energy from nature. You get to see amazing places.

Where do you live in Phuket?
I live on my boat, moored in Ao Chalong, when I stay in Phuket. I love it. I’m thinking of buying a house or land, but I might buy a bigger boat instead.

Tell us about your work. Do you have a business or job?
I have a family farm in my home town. I had a business in Bangkok before and a business in Phuket, but I’ve sold them and I’m just sailing full time. I plan to start many businesses soon, however. I’d like to buy a sports team, probably a football club in my home town. I also want to make a hotel business, and maybe some kind of business involving yachts. I’m not sure yet but definitely something to do with boats.

Are you involved in any other sports?
I play football. I was the captain of the football team at my university, King Mongkut Institute of Technology, where I graduated with a degree in engineering in 2007.

Tell us more about your family.
My mum’s still living in my home town. She was a teacher but she’s been retired for many years. My father passed away many years ago. I have three older brothers, living in different areas around Thailand.

What does your family think about your sailing adventures?
My mother is quite happy about it. Since I was young my family tried to teach us to do what you love. My mother always says, “Do what you love to do, do what makes you happy and don’t make trouble for other people.” No one else in my family sails, but I’ve taken my brothers out on my boat many times.

What does the future hold for you?
As I said, I hope to buy a football team and I want to buy another boat, maybe a catamaran, within a few years. I want to do more to help my local communities, especially in education and sports. I’m involved in a number of clubs and charities that provide educational and social support. In Phuket; I love to teach Thai people how to sail. Sometimes I’ll just take people out on the boat to let them get a taste of what it's like. Sailing is quite expensive for Thai people, so I like to give them a chance to try it. My boat is small, but everyone is welcome to come and sail with me.

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