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The need for speed

Radio Control Boat Club members get their thrills every weekend - without getting hurt or wet

The need for speed

Late-afternoon sunlight filters through the branches and wind whips across Nong Bon Lake. In the shade of a tree, members of the Radio Control Boat Club chat as they assemble the parts of a radio-controlled (RC) boat. Half an hour later the RC boats are launched one after another into the lake. Each boat splashes onto the water to the sound of cheers from the controllers and other members.

Members of the RC Boat Club gather on Sundays at Nong Bon Lake in Bangkok's Suan Luang Rama IX Park, where they race their boats up to 70 kilometres per hour. It's like a cross between a big classroom and a rehearsal stage for RC boat fans.

Many members have been involved for many years and suggest shops, models and equipment they enjoy using for their hobby.

"Some people just know they want to play and go straight out to buy a boat. But without experience they can't control the budget. They can end up buying a boat for Bt20,000 that's only worth Bt10,000. We suggest beginners come here and chat to us before they decide to buy a boat," says Boxer (as he's called in the club), a young architect and one of three founder members.

Ready-to-go boats start at Bt800 but most members learn to modify them in order to increase their speed. The highest speed reached is 125Km/h. To achieve this, modified boats cost between Bt15,000 and Bt20,000.

There are two types of RC boat: the electric and the Nitro. Most members choose to use electric boats as they are quieter. Nitro boats can sound like you're turning on a mowing machine or sitting on a speedboat. Electric RC boats are also easy to pick up and take anywhere you want to go. Nitro RC boats have the advantage of running longer than the electric version, which has to be charged every 15 to 20 minutes.

You don't need any experience in electrical engineering or motor engineering to join the club and it's open to anyone. Members help each other and enjoy racing the boats together. They hold an RC electric boat competition at least once a month.

"You don't need to know anything other than left, right, forward and backward and you can control an RC boat," club member Thanet Suwanphob, 24, says with a laugh.

Boxer urges anyone who has never tried an RC boat and wants to have a go to drop by the lake.

"Because the lake is in a park, it's shady and cool. Besides enjoying the hobby, people like to chill out here as well," says Boxer.

"I like sports and hobbies that involve speed," says Ponlapat Nanthmanop, 14, a Grade 8 student at Ramkhamhaeng Advent International School. "It's challenging and exciting. I enjoy all kinds of remote-control hobbies - cars, aeroplanes and boats - but boats are the best.

Even though we aren't actually in the car or boat, as you are in real car racing or motor cross, the enjoyment and excitement are the same. But with remote- control hobbies there isn't the same high risk of an accident."

There are no conditions for joining the club. The RC Boat Club gathers at Nong Bon Lake in Soi Chalermprakiert 43, near Suan Luang Rama IX park every Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. To meet and chat with members of the club online, go to www.rcthai.net for more information.

Suwicha Chanitnun

The Nation

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