Thai taste of success for model yacht club skipper

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One of Fleetwood Model Yacht and Power Boat Club’s most successful skippers has won another international competition.

Robert Walsh, the club’s top skipper of radio controlled yachts, was the overall winner of an invitation-only event in Thailand for International One Metre (IOM) class yachts.

After winning one event and finishing runner-up in another, he triumphed in the King’s Cup, staged as part of King Rama IX’s birthday celebrations.

The end of December event follows success in two international events earlier in summer - the Model Yachting Association’s National Championship IOM event at Lincoln, and the Brazilian National Championship for 10m yachts in Porto Alegre.

Robert, 29, of Broadway, Cleveleys, admitted he thought his invitation to the Thai event was a prank at first.

Apart from his flight costs, he was told all his accommodation and other expenses would be paid for by the Thai Government.

He said: “I received this invitation by email and I really did think it was some kind of joke.

“But I spoke to the club and it turned out it was for real. I felt quite honoured.”

There were 36 competitors, representing 14 countries around the world with 12 entries from Thailand. Robert was one of two British competitors.

Robert won the opening event on the lake in the Royal Park of King Rama, and came second in the follow-up event at Ocean Marina Yacht Club at Pattaya.

In between the two races, the days were packed with sight seeing tours, banquets and entertainment, before Robert received two trophies in a ceremony Bangkok.

He said: “It was a great experience.

“This has been my most successful season yet but a lot of it has been down to the expert guidance I’ve had at the Fleetwood club over the years.

“Fleetwood is still one of the best in Britain - and this country is still a world leader at radio-controlled model yacht racing.

“I think it was my success in the two international events that led to my being invited to Thailand in the first place.

“I am always proud to represent the Fleetwood club whenever I compete.”

Robert, who won the 2013 World Championship in Israel, is not the only world champion at the club.

Veteran member Derek Priestley is also an ex-world beater from the club, which plays host to a number of national and international events at Fleetwood.