Laser record holder’s latest project in Phuket

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After spending 77 hours on a laser in 2014, and with it breaking the record for the longest time sailed on a laser dinghy, Yassine Darkaoui has set his sights on a new goal. Asia at Sea caught up with Yassine to get the download.

AAS: So Yassine, firstly tell us about last year’s record.

Yassine: The record last year was about time, I spent the longest time sailing on a Laser, I couldn’t reach the 300 N miles (sailed by Tania Elias Calles from Mexico) because of lack of wind. I was stuck 50% of the time.  I came back to shore because of my butt skin, I lost all the skin and could not sit anymore. The last 20km I had to kneel.

The record last year…I spent the longest time sailing on a laser…I came back to shore because of my butt skin, I lost all the skin and could not sit anymore

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AAS: And how about this new project?

Yassine: It all started after the 77 hour record. I had this idea to do the same but flying…I thought, “why not build my own moth?”. And here we are, 1 year and half later, building our first boat in our workshop in Phuket, Thailand. Our goal is to create a group of moth sailors in South East Asia and contribute to the worldwide development of this class of boat. The King of Thailand was a Moth sailor for around 20 years, so we can say that Moth sailing is part of the sailing history of Thailand.

The King of Thailand was a Moth sailor for around 20 years, so we can say that Moth sailing is part of the sailing history of Thailand

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AAS: Are you also aiming for a record this time?

Yassine: Yes, once we’re done with the sail testing, I will sail around 100 Nmiles, I want to bring attention to sailing long distances with dinghies, as well as creating a big race in this beautiful area of the world.  It will be probably be from Phuket to the south of Phi Phi islands and back.

AAS: You say “our goal”, so how many of you are involved?

Yassine: we are a total of 8. We are from morocco, France, Thailand, Argentina and Australia. In our team we have people in charge of the admin side and dealing with the authorities, we have 3 naval architects, a finance and design manager, 2 qualified technicians, a graphic designer, a strategy advisor and me, in charge of everything.

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ASS: What’s your own background and what are doing in Thailand?

Yassine: I grew up in morocco, I  was always close to the sea, in a big part because of my dad who was a merchant navy Master. I started with the great Optimists and then Lasers a few years later. I was in the national team a few times, but I preferred free sailing; the straits of Gibraltar are a great place to learn with heavy seas and strong winds. I learned mathematics at University but all my life I worked in the sailing field. in 2011 I came with my wife to Thailand, I met her in Morocco and she was going to move to Phuket for work, it was scary for me, because i couldn’t speak English and I had no idea about life here, but I decided to leave my place for another one.

Sailing that distance with a Laser was a spiritual experience

My purpose was to live my passion to the maximum and switch from a boring life to a challenging one, everything started like this. When I arrived I started to look for sponsors, it was not easy but I didn’t give up, I trained 1 year and half and started with my journey, when I came back something changed in my mind, I was looking for more. Sailing that distance with the Laser was a spiritual experience and wanted to do the same asap, so I started to think doing it with a Moth. First I wanted to build it alone, but its a of skill work and time, that’s when I created a team for this project.

AAS: Why have you decided to build your own boat rather than buying one?

Yassine: More challenging and more interesting, the boat will be soon be available to buy, its also the purpose of what we do. We don’t want to follow but we want to bring our “touch” to this field.

AAS: Tell us about the boat itself?

Yassine: The boat is made of carbon fiber, with a total weight of just 35 kg (including the sail, boom, and mast and wings). the only things we will buy are the spars and sail. We have made the hull, the foils, the wings and all the controls ourselves. As for the sails, that’s a surprise, we will reveal soon. It’s a small boat but full of small pieces, it’s crazy. The design is different from any existing moth, it’s curved in the front and flat in the back, many reinforcements inside.

The boat is made of carbon fiber, with a total of weight of just 35 kg…the design is different from any existing moth, it’s curved in the front and flat in the back

Made with an infusion process, the boat is made to fly quickly because the hull is not wide – my surf board is wider. The sail test will last a few weeks, we will try to break it, we will torture the boat, [and] after collecting all the information we need (I think that we will change basically few things), we will build a second one with improvements.

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AAS: Where do you plan to sail the boat?

Yassine:  we will do the sail test in the east side of the island; i am not planning to sail a few miles from the shore, but to sail from one island to another. This will make it more special, you are welcome to join us. The tests will coincide with the end of the monsoon season, it’s the time when the sea becomes calm again. Now we wait for the spars and sails; because of Christmas nobody is working which is a bit frustrating.

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AAS: What do you make of the general movement of high performance yachting towards foiling?

Yassine: Sailing fast boats with hydrofoils is bringing more technicality, a more extreme feelings, and maybe will attract more people to the sport of sailing in the near future. Something is sure though, foiling is a lot of more fun.

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