Sinsupa “Mink” Wannasuta, 28, made headlines at this year’s King’s Cup Regatta as the event’s first Thai female skipper. OK, so her all-woman team (PTTEP’s Platu 132) came last in their class, but that hasn’t dampened their hopes to compete in next year’s SEA Games. Here, BK talks to Mink and her teammates—Theeranoot “Im” Vongruck, 34, and Nichada “Bo” Pijarawat, 31—about their chances.
How did you form as a team?
Mink: I’ve participated in this regatta three times, but always with male teams, like the Thai navy. But this year I finished my doctorate [in management], so decided I’d come back to compete in the national team. So I started practicing with friends in Sattahip, Chonburi, before deciding to participate in the King’s Cup as part of the Platu team. It’s like a warm-up to get in the national team, and part of the qualifying for the next SEA Games.
Were you happy with how the race went?
Mink: This is my first time as the skipper and I forgot to bring a radio on board. We also went to the wrong buoy and were cut points despite being so much ahead of the ex-champ’s boat and even our teachers, the navy team. It is a steep learning curve but so much fun.
Im: The last time I raced was 16 years ago, for the 420/470 class at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998. So it’s kind of exciting to come back and feel the same thrill.
Mink: There were mistakes during the race and we shouted at each other a lot. But at the end of the day we just let it go. We have been friends for 20 years so we know that it’s part of competing. Our aim coming here was just to experience it. We had so much fun.
Are women at a disadvantage sailing in the same field as men?
Bo: There is a physical disadvantage, yes. We admit that we can’t compete with guys in strong winds, we’re strong in other ways like detail; observing what the wind is doing and how to adjust the sail.
Im: It’s chaotic but it’s good. Our team was probably the loudest in the race.
What are your day jobs?
Im: I’m the manager of Kasikorn Bank’s Chonburi branch. But I go sailing every weekend.
Mink: I help with my family’s dried fruit factory and have also started my own cosmetics business.
Bo: My family’s business is in Pattaya, where we have restaurants and bars.
Why did you all decide to come back to competitive sailing this year?
Bo: As you know, you can’t make a living as a sportsman in Thailand without sponsors or a rich family. But when you get to a position in life where you’re comfortable, there’s another part inside you that wants to fulfill other dreams. That’s why we want to be part of the race once more. It’s what we’re passionate about.
What’s your next goal?
Mink: I aim to once more be a national athlete, this time in the team division. We hope to take home some medals at next year’s SEA Games in Singapore. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan