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Pattaya Daily News

06 December 2006 :: 16:12:25 pm 22421

Pichet Settura, the World Jet Ski Champion in the Expert Runabout 1200 class of the year 2000

One of the partners in??Oo-Kao-Oo-Nam? Restaurant in Chaiyapruek Road in Jomtien is Pichet Settura. He is a mild mannered young man, and nobody would know that he was a World Champion Jet Ski racer, other than the coming generations of jet ski enthusiasts who know Pichet through his other business - jet skis!
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He was born in Chachoengsao, the third of four children raised by a simple farmer and his wife. This was not a silver spoon childhood, but one of simple tastes and hard work. He went to government schools and I asked him whether he was a good student. ?OK! I just passed,? he said with a big smile.?

He was 15 years old when he finished school, but at least he did know what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a mechanic and enrolled in vocational school for a five year apprenticeship. Part of that training included work experience and he was taken on by Thai Kawasaki in Samut Prakan.?

This was a serendipitous decision that was to later take him all over the world, though neither Pichet (or Kawasaki) was to know it at the time. One local project that Kawasaki initiated was jet skis. These were imported from Japan and Pichet, who showed an aptitude in modifications, was made responsible for the TYPEs and the testing. Fortunately Kawasaki had a canal beside the factory, and young Pichet could always find a reason to take one out for testing. ?When I played on the jet skis it was so much fun,? he said.?

On the hot days, out in the cool water, it was just nice to relax.? Kawasaki then formed their own jet ski team as well, and naturally the chief tester (and the man with more hours on the water than anyone else) was in the team.?

His expertise and ability became known outside the canals of Kawasaki and he was soon approached by a well-to-do businessman and given the offer of a job looking after his cars – and his jet skis!?

For this young man, from a simple agricultural background, it was almost too good to be true. Every day, for two to three hours, he could be seen on the lake behind Bangna, tuning up his employer?s jet skis and power boats.?

Not only were the TYPEs kept in top notch, but the rider was gaining more experience. That experience, both in race preparation and personal fitness and skills was to play a major part in his public life, as by the time he was 26 years old he had pulled off not only the Thailand Jet Ski championship, but the Power Boat championship as well.

I asked Pichet what it was like to win the championship that first time in 1990. ?I was very proud. I did it all by myself – the preparation and the TYPE. It was more than just being the ?winner?. I upgraded the TYPE myself. It was great personal satisfaction.??

After 10 years in Bangkok, Pichet wanted to come closer to the sea, and to become his own boss. The natural business venture for the jet ski champion was to be in jet ski sales, repairs and rental, and the natural place for this business was Jomtien.?

Every day he was able to practice two to three hours, while ostensibly watching his rental ski business. Every year he entered the Thailand Championships and almost every year he was a winner.

He was invited to compete in the World Championships in Arizona in the USA and was a finalist in 1995, 1997, 1999, but the major prize eluded him. However, he was not ready to give up. More practice in the waves off Jomtien finally brought his rewards in the year 2000, being crowned World Champion in the Expert Runabout 1200 class.?

By this stage he was 37 years old, an age at which most other jet ski competitors would have given up. He did return to the World Championship twice more after that, going up into the more expensive classes, and while he was a finalist, the top step of the podium was beyond his reach – both financially and physically. ?The sport is for a young man,? said Pichet. ?I can still lead for the first five laps, but the races are over ten,? he said and laughed.?

Two years ago he moved his jet ski business to Chaiyapruek Road as he needed larger premises, but this was not to be his only business.?

His customers would come down from Bangkok and they would look for somewhere they could sit down, have a meal, review the day?s skiing and have a few beers. That was the seed for the idea of a restaurant and bar business.?

His lady?s family owned the land opposite, and just as he used to watch over the jet ski rental, he decided he could watch over the building of a restaurant just as easily.?

Well that was the plan, but now the restaurant and the jet ski business is turning into a full-time job. The time available for his own personal jet skiing has almost gone.?

However, he has another two interests in the jet ski competitions – his two sons (from a previous marriage). He goes out with his 13 and 19 year olds as often as he can, and wants to see both of them follow their father on to the top step of the world championship podiums.?

This is not a pipe-dream, as both of them have already made their mark in various Thai championship classes. As Pichet himself admitted, the sport is for men younger than himself. Who better to add another world championship cup to the family cupboard than his own two boys? While Pichet is undoubtedly proud (and justifiably so) of his sporting achievements, he presents that typical Thai humility (similar to the tennis star Paradorn) that makes you humble too. But now I can say I have lunched with a world champion!

Story from www.irboat.net

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Lifestyle

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