While entries continue to flood in for the 24th Phuket Kings Cup, to be held from the fourth to 11th December, the pre-regatta battles have begun as skippers starting talking up their potential results and preview their opponents.
Multihull class top place getters from the 2009 regatta, Thor’s Henry Kaye and Fergus Wilmer, and Miss Saigon’s David Liddell are just two of the skippers who have already started sizing up their competition for the 2010 event.
There is often only a matter of a few seconds on handicap determining the podium results in this class. Next month’s regatta will be no exception for this high speed, high tech fleet.
Kaye still sounds surprised about his SeaCart 30 trimaran’s 2009 result. ‘The racing was extremely close. It was a very competitive fleet. Thor is an all carbon, very sophisticated boat. I felt that last year was our first major regatta and that it would take us a bit more time to learn to sail the boat to our rating. However, the conditions were very favourable to us with quite a windy series.
‘This boat really gets up and goes when it is windy. When it’s over 12 or 15 knots and sailing her on one hull there is very little resistance to the water so she goes extremely quickly.
‘However, we did make a couple of mistakes last year and they (Miss Saigon) very nearly caught us.’
David Liddell’s Corsair 37-foot, Miss Saigon, after a below par start to the regatta, fought back to then deliver six consecutive second places. ‘It was quite difficult with Thor because it is a pure racing boat where we are just a racer/cruiser boat, but we are not so far behind them.’
Well, that was last year. This year Kaye and Wilmer have invested in new sails. Liddell has done the same ordering the latest 3DI sails from North Sails. Both have indicated they plan to race with the same experienced crew.
What is likely to differentiate these two teams will be the usual crew work and tactics, thrown in with some unknown competition.
Kaye reports there is likely to be a sister-ship to Thor within the fleet. The yet to be named SeaCart 30 trimaran has only just landed into Singapore from South Africa.
With two very fast, light-weight trimarans on the course the difference in performance will come down to crew skills and local knowledge. ‘I think it will come down to sailing skills and the least number of mistakes. My crew have sailed some 40 races together on this yacht so I think that our crew skills are going to be fairly tidy. We should on his occasion have the advantage.
‘I think the SeaCart is equipped to do well in all conditions. We have a little problem at the moment as psychologically everyone is saying Thor is going to win because she is has a very good rating, because she is so light, etcetera. Yachting is down to skills and not making mistakes.
‘We only have to have one little error. We give David (Miss Saigon) something like 20 minutes an hour, so we basically have to be going 20 per cent faster than him all the time. In light airs there are very often holes where you park the boat for a while and everybody catches you up so you lose your time. There are pluses and minuses to yacht racing and in lighter air we will be okay provided there are not too many really light patches where the fleet compacts.
‘If it is very light it will be very interesting. I still think we will have some advantage.’
Kaye also has his money on multihull designer Alan Carwadine’s Sidewinder which he thinks will be right in there along with the other SeaCart. ‘They will both be the biggest threat to the podium positions.’
Liddell has identified Thor as his main concern. ‘Thor could definitely be a thorn in our side again this year. Miss Saigon is three and half tons where Thor is less than one ton. We need a little bit more wind to get it going. Not a lot, but just a couple of extra knots makes a big difference.’
Other starters he will be watching with interest are Andy Pape’s new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci and Sidewinder, both of who were right up in the placings with Thor and Miss Saigon in July’s Phuket Race Week.
‘If it’s light airs the smaller Corsairs like Shanghai Baby and Cedar Swan will also be an issue for us.
‘Really it’s all about not making mistakes. In light airs there is great potential for making good tactical decisions as well,’ Liddell said.
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by Tracey Johnstone