From Phuket to Pwllheli (by Elin Aaron)
At the Opening Ceremony of the Topper World Championships at Pwllheli Sailing Club on Sunday there were two very special guests in attendance. Among the dignitaries and competitors from 11 different countries, Cartoon Jundet and Sarawuth Kuluk proudly carried the Thai national flag on to the Topper world stage.
Cartoon (12 years old) and Sarawuth (13 year old) are members of the Phuket Youth Sailing Club which aim to give underprivileged children the opportunity to sail and get involved in international competitions. Cartoon and Sarawuth live at Phuket Sunshine Village, a home for children in need set up by the Lions Club of Phuket Andaman Sea and Child Watch Phuket in the aftermath of the Tsunami in 2004. This journey to Pwllheli is Sarawuth’s first venture outside of his home town.
The International Topper Class Association are continuously talking to the Phuket Youth Sailing Club to try and get them involved and offer them assistance as required. This year the Topper Worlds event secured a travel grant to enable the Sailing Club to send two young sailors and their supporters across the world to Pwllheli.
The climate in Pwllheli differs greatly from their normal sailing waters in Phuket. Back in Thailand Cartoon and Sarawuth sail in their shorts, but the the remnants of what was Hurricane Bertha means that the conditions in Pwllheli required the pair to layer up. Suitable sailing attire was donated from various other competitors and British supporters of the Phuket Youth Sailing Club and loaned by Pwllheli Youth Sailing Community (CHIPAC). The young sailors will be sailing in boats generously supplied by Topper International Ltd., the manufacturer, to compete in the championships.
Bill Brassington, the President and Chairman of the International Topper Class Association, said: “It’s great to see Cartoon and Sarawuth out on the water with all the other sailors. As a class, we feel it’s important to support and assist sailors from countries where Topper sailing is still in its infantry in order to develop the sport. The welcome that Cartoon and Sarawuth have received here at Pwllheli has been warm, despite the challenging conditions.”
Now that the pleasantries of the Opening Ceremony are over it’s time for the pair to join in with the 150 other competitors in the waters of Cardigan Bay. With 5 days of sailing ahead of them the Topper Worlds 2014 at Pwllheli Sailing Club will be a great experience for all involved. Who knows this opportunity might inspire Cartoon and Sarawuth and we’ll see their names representing Thailand at the Olympics in the future.