July 24th: What started with a brisk windward / leeward race, finished in almost drifting conditions on a passage race around the islands. The storm that swept in from the Andaman Sea, engulfed all of Phuket in heavy rain, soon put an end to the lovely 15 knot SW breeze and left the yachts rocking and rolling in the lumpy sea that formed overnight. To make matters worse the sailors had to contend with a strong out going current, which turned the usual surfing conditions around the back of the islands into a drifting match in a difficult seaway. Again some skippers were a little to keen at the start and individually recalled for being over the line. This time it was Horst Lakits’ Swan 55 Big A that miss judged the current and collected The Moorings sponsored start boat, fortunately with little or no visible damage other than a bruised ego. The crew on Antony Hastings’ Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga went out determined to put in a good showing in the fresh conditions and that’s just what they did. Taking the IRC Racing daily double in Race 5 by 42 seconds from Ben Copley’s Swan CS 42 Katsu and Ray Waldron’s brand new Phuket 8 Surf Patrol taking third spot. Scott Duncanson’s Phuket 8 Quantum Fusion M developed spinnaker problems and had to overshoot the bottom mark, then forced to retire. Not to be outdone, Ben Copley rebounded on Katsu by taking the daily double in Race 6 and as the drop race comes into play, taking a healthy two point lead over Scott Duncanson’s second placed Quantum Fusion M who recovered from the earlier setback. Ray Waldron’s brand new Surf Patrol slotted into third place and the crew work is improving with every race. In the light winds Antony Hastings had to settle on fourth place for Baby Tonga which keeps them steady in third overall and depending on how many races are run on the final day tomorrow to have any chance of improving.
Bryan Gauson’s 1976 Sydney Hobart Race winning Farr 1104 Piccolo has felt the highs and lows of yacht racing before. Today was no exception when they luffed their main competitors above the start boat and never looked back, to score first and fastest in Race 5. Only to finish up dead last in the Race 6 drifting match. Despite all this they have posted four wins and Race 6 becomes the drop, so they still hold a four point lead in the IRC 2 overall stakes. Peter Dyer’s IOR 3/4 tonner Sea Bees excelled in the light wind and staged a comeback by winning Race 6 and third in Race 5 to take over second overall. Defending champion Jaray Tipsuk on Platu 25 Royal Thai Navy 5, Stuart Williamson’s Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour of Whitby and Co. Pornprom Sakultem’s Platu 25 Royal Thai Navy 4 have shared the placing’s around and are locked in battle for the third podium place.
Despite being recalled on both races today, the Russians on Alex Takhovski’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS LeRo went on to score two bullets and in doing so claim back the overall lead, displacing Keith Garry’s Malaysian based X-412 BeauX Esprits to second overall in the IRC 3 class. Bob Yapp’s Simonis 56 Yo Mo, John Caffin’s Jeanneau J53 Don’t Think Twice skippered by James Hardie and Horst Lakits’ Swan 55 Big A shared the placing’s and have closed in on each other to be fighting it out for third overall.
Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 Thor added two more wins, making it six in a row and some thing really untoward will have to happen for them to loose the Multihull Class title from here. Andy Pape skippering the new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci continues to play the bridesmaid role, with second place in Race 5 and joined the five retirements when they fell of the pace in Race 6 to hold onto second overall. As Alan Carwadine’s crew come to grips with the new Stealth 12.5 Sidewinder, they scored second place in Race 6 and are progressively climbing the rankings. Two third places for David Liddell’s Corsair 37 Miss Saigon keeps them steady in third overall but may have fend off some likely challengers if they are to retain third spot.
A little hiccup during Race 5 caused Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo to suddenly drop down to second place but Race 6 saw them back on their winning ways and take a healthy five point lead into tomorrows final day of racing before they secure the Firefly 850 Sport one-design class trophy. Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi stepped up to the plate and took victory in Race 5 and second place in Race 6, to hold onto second overall and become the only boat that can trouble Vodoo from here. Third and second places for Damien Ford in charge of SEA Property lifts them to third overall and relegates Andrew Marshall’s Pink Lady down to fourth overall.
In the two boat Classic Class, Tom Howard’s 100 year old North Sea Fishing Boat Seraph once again triumphed over Gunther Nutt’s Friendship Sloop Kerida, to take a one point advantage in the overall stakes, which will be determined by tomorrows final race.
For the final day of racing, PRO Simon James has indicated that (weather permitting) the race committee would like to hold two races for the racing classes and fairly settle the outstanding racing.
July 25th: Phuketindex went to film an exciting final day:
About 9am it was discovered that the Malaysian registered yacht ‘Skandia Endeavour of Whitby’ had drifted off from its overnight moorings near Evason Resort & Spa down to the rocks west of Bon Island, off Rawai. The crew, skippered by Stuart Williamson, were not on board, and could not retrieve the damaged yacht despite help from speedboat operators, as a strong south-westerly storm began to blow in. They were at the time lying 4th in the IRC2 class before the final day’s racing. It was later towed towards Chalong and then to Phuket town harbour.
The racing off Lone Island started just before the 1st storm grew quickly worse (possibly up to 30 knots per hour) as can be seen from the bouncing Evason jetty. The mast and other equipment on multihull ‘Little Soul’ was badly damaged, but the crew skippered by Daniel Moore were all safe. They were at the time lying last or 9th in Multihull class. Two other yachtsmen on other yachts fell in the water but were saved by fellow sailors, during the bad storm & mist which engulfed the whole fleet, causing a delay in resuming the racing, while some gave up and returned to shore.
The Fireflys and Multihulls enjoyed the strong winds but another 2nd storm blanketed the fleet when most were in the more sheltered Chalong Bay. Racing continued….
Official report by www.Phuketraceweek.com:
July 25th: At the sumptuous Six Senses Evason breakfast overlooking the racing area, the warning signs for a tough day ahead were already in full view. White caps and lumpy seas, stirred up by 20 to 25 knot South West Monsoon winds. Upon arrival at Race Control at ‘Into the Beach’, it was kindly pointed out at that Stuart Williamson’s Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour of Whitby had drifted off, some time during the night and was firmly planted on the rocks at Koh Bon. A Thai fishing boat had been engaged to skull drag her from the beach and tow her into Ao Chalong for repairs. As the assembled media were due to board the boats an enormous storm descended on Phuket bringing with it 30 to 35 knot gusts and lashing rain. After half an hour delay, those that were brave enough to tackle the bronco bucking jetty and risk ruining their valuable camera equipment, clambered aboard and headed out to the racing area to see what was going on out there. Capt Brent McInnes our boat owner and driver afforded us a brief photo shoot of the Skandia Endeavour of Whitby grounding and then expertly guided his magnificent Donzi speedboat around the starting area, all the time desperately trying to keep the photographic equipment dry. Just after PRO Simon James started the IRC Racing and IRC 2 classes the threatening black clouds that were building out to sea, descended over the race course and all hell broke loose in torrential rain and zero visibility.
The boats that could, had already taken deep reefs in their mainsails and were carrying small head sails but the boats that couldn’t were completely overpowered and out of control on the race course. As the weather shut down proceedings, the skippers and crew milling around waiting for their start, wisely went into survival mode. Ray Waldron’s brand new Phuket 8 Surf Patrol was the first casualty when the boat almost capsized in over 30 knots and in doing so, lost two crew members over the side. Almost straight after Nigel Cross on the Daniel Moore 11.2 catamaran Little Soul radioed in to tell the race office that they were dismasted near the start line. No one was injured and they were attempting to sort out the mess of rigging and sails dragging in the water on their port side, before motoring to Ao Chalong. The media boats were asked to find these floundering boats, render any assistance and standby. Grenville Fordham’s Andaman Cabriolet Nina safely picked up the two Surf Patrol crew members, as the remaining crew lowered the mainsail and got the boat back under control. At the height of the storm and for safety reasons many skippers decided not to take any further part in racing and preserve the boat and their equipment for another day.
As the weather abated and clearer skies returned, PRO Simon James resumed the starting sequence for the remaining boats on Course 16, that would take them into and around the much calmer Ao Chalong Bay. The Racing and IRC 2 classes were beginning to exit Ao Chalong and head for the finish line, when the recently started classes were just entering the bay. Only time for a quick wave as the boats passed. Antony Hastings radioed the committee to let them know that due to some boom damage he was also retiring his Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga from the race. Just when everything seemed to be under control, another black cloud rolled over the southern tip of the island and unleashed another round of fury on the normally sedate waters. Having experienced the earlier storm most boats were ready and took notice of the early warning gusts to douse the spinnakers and get ready for another big blow. Apart from the lashing rain, finding your way in zero visibility and identifying other boats or landmarks in your vicinity, is a good reminder of the dangers that this sport can pose.
In the IRC Racing class, Scott Duncanson managed to keep his Phuket 8 Quantum Fusion M upright and sailed conservatively to take Race 7 handicap honours. Ben Copley’s Swan CS 42 Katsu took line honours and second place, to finally ditch the bridesmaid role and take home the overall Racing Class trophy. Robert van Paridon’s Beneteau 44.7 Tantrum clung on for third place today, but Antony Hastings Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga did enough in the earlier races to take third spot on the podium. Surprisingly enough the race committee were set up and almost ready to hold Race 8 when the second storm struck and had to abandon proceedings.
Toshio Furuta’s mainly Japanese team on the chartered Mumm 36 Emma have scored four line honours out of seven races but after handicaps are applied have finished right down the bottom of the order in the IRC 2 fleet. Today was their lucky day as Emma scored the daily double in Race 7. Second place for Bryan Gauson’s refitted 1976 Sydney Hobart Race winning Farr 1104 Piccolo has lived up to its reputation and galloped away with the IRC 2 title on their first outing. It’s amazing what a lot of tender loving care and a few talented crew from North Sails, Perth can do for a top performance. Although Peter Dyer’s IOR 3/4 tonner Sea Bees incurred some sail damage on the way to the start line and did not compete today, they managed to hold onto second place on the podium. Defending champion Jaray Tipsuk on Platu 25 Royal Thai Navy 5 ripped their jib when they went to the aid of the Surf Patrol crew and were awarded points for Race 7 to lock in the third podium place.
Jack Cristensen’s Bavaria 49 Linda has been lagging at the back of the IRC 3 class all regatta but today survived the savage conditions to pull off first and fastest to end the regatta in fine style. Second place for the Russians on Alex Takhovski’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS LeRo sees them through to claim the overall title. Fourth place for Keith Garry’s Malaysian based X-412 BeauX Esprits holds them in second overall and the retirement of John Caffin’s Jeanneau J53 Don’t Think Twice makes way for Horst Lakits’ Swan 55 Big A to jump up onto the third step of the podium.
Four boats chose not to compete and one retirement today paved the way for Andy Pape skippering the new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci to dismiss the bridesmaid role and win Race 7 in adverse conditions. After rendering assistance to the Surf Patrol crew, Grenville Fordham’s original Andaman Cabriolet Nina went on to take second place. Despite third place ruining a clean sheet of six wins in a row, Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 Thor has convincingly won the Multihull class title and was even seen flying the centre hull today. Da Vinci holds onto second overall and despite not competing, David Liddell’s Corsair 37 Miss Saigon lays claim to third overall.
Damien Ford, in charge of SEA Property, triumphed on Race 7, in front of Roger Kingdon’s ever elusive Moto Inzi and overall leader Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo. This result did not change the podium places as Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo scored four wins and never finished out of the top three places to secure the Firefly 850 Sport one-design trophy for the second year running. Roger Kingdon has pushed Moto Inzi hard all regatta and deservedly takes second place on the podium. Today’s win secures SEA Property third overall in front of a marauding, hungry chasing pack.
In the two boat Classic Class, Gunther Nutt’s Friendship Sloop Kerida and Tom Howard’s 107 year old North Sea Fishing Boat Seraph had a close battle in the difficult conditions until some damage forced Seraph to retire, which handed the race win and overall title to Gunther Nutt’s Kerida, who also was awarded the Seraph Trophy for displaying some outstanding sportsmanship on the classic class boats.
Wow! What a spectacular ending to the regatta. Over the years competitors have experienced anything from dead calms to sailing straight into the blustery teeth of the SW Monsoon. Combine this with five gala parties, free-flow of drinks, great food and live entertainment at Evason’s ‘Into the Beach’ venue and Da Vinci restaurant, this regatta is certainly the most memorable for all the right reasons. The Racing Class sailors always look forward to this event as it wipes away last seasons results and kick starts the 2010-11 AsianYachting Grand Prix Championship with a clean sheet. More on that next week when the new ranking system is posted. Meanwhile judging by all the applause and happy faces at the prize presentation, they will be dancing to the all girl Thai band long into the night. Six Senses hosting the regatta has become a trademark for this event and long may this successful partnership continue into the future.