Abu Dhabi, UAE, 31st October, 2023:  Thailand’s top young sailing talent combined to produce an opening race victory, and two other podium finishes, as the 2023 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship got under way in Abu Dhabi today.

After the start was delayed by calm conditions in the UAE capital, Pailin Jaroenpon served notice of the strength of the Thai challenge by securing victory in the opening race of the five-day international regatta.

Spain’s Joan Domingo claimed second place ahead of Italian Bianca Marchesini, the bronze medal winner at last year’s European Championship.

The UAE’s Khalifa Al Romaithi, who struck gold at this year’s Arab Games in Algeria, finished 20th out of 53 starters, and is gaining more valuable international experience in an event which has attracted more than 160 competitors from 29 countries.

With sailing conditions improving throughout the afternoon, Singapore’s  Ethan Chia, silver medallist at last year’s South East Asian Games, won race two from Brazil’s Laura Neves, with Thailand’s Chanatip Tongglum claiming third position. Kornelia Pajak led the way for the UAE in 25th spot from a 52-boat starting line-up

The opening day’s third race saw Italian Mattia Di Martino take victory ahead of Thailand’s

Patcharaphan Ongkaloy, with Britain’s Hugo Fletcher claiming the other podium place. The UAE’s Saif Alzaabi crossed the finish line 22nd of 52 competitors.

Sponsored by Abu Dhabi Ports and Al Mariah Bank, the regatta is being hosted by Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club in cooperation with the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, the Asian Sailing Federation, and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

The event is the continental championship for Asian and Oceanian nation members of the International Optimist Dinghy Association, which oversees the fundamental class in the world of sailing for the 7-15 year age group, and is marking its 50th anniversary.