Phuketindex went along to the opening day registration and the evening’s opening ceremony with brief speeches by Raceweek organiser, Evason Phuket Resort Manager, & TAT Director for Phuket, to capture the relaxed friendly atmosphere before racing begins, and got three exclusive interviews: with Royal Thai Navy skipper Pornprom Sakultem; the Raceweek organiser, Grenville Fordham; plus double Olympic Gold Medal winner and CNN’s Main Sail reporter, Shirley Robertson. Raceweek regatta races start each day at 10am on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 22-25th July in six different classes and various routes, visible from the Evason and Rawai, south east of Phuket.
The organiser announced that “this year, Raceweek looks set to break the 40-boat barrier again – something of a miracle given the political mayhem Thailand’s been suffering for the past several months – with the best all-round fleet of fast IRC classes and multihull yachts we’ve seen yet, albeit minus last year’s two ‘rock stars’, Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi and Ray Roberts Evolution Racing,” said Grenville Fordham. He also told Phuketindex that “the Fireflys, back in bigger numbers than ever before as locally made in Phuket, are usually the fastest, but this year they could be overtaken by the new lighter multihulls and catamarans.” He also races himself with his own team in multihull ‘Nina’, but claims the inside knowledge of regatta does not help win at the regatta! He said Raceweek participants still prefer a 4 not 7 day regatta, and sponsors are also happy. as he is after organizing it for 7 years now.
Especially encouraging for Phuket’s beleaguered tourism industry, is the number of ‘out of town’ participants that increases each year – both with boats coming from different waters and crew and sponsors’ guests flying in from… well, all over the world. 2010 is the third year that Six Senses Phuket Raceweek will be televised, going out to 140 million households across Europe, UK, Asia, USA, Australia and New Zealand as the first feature on the Hot Water program on major sporting channels. “We’re still the only regatta in the region that has this guaranteed international TV exposure,” said local media guru Grenville whose Image Asia continues to break through new boundaries to gain their share of main stream multimedia coverage around the globe.
Riots and mayhem are not the best environment in which to find sponsors, yet many of Phuket Raceweek’s loyal partners have remained on board this year, and some new faces have joined the sponsorship line-up. Grenville added, “We believe that it’s better to keep sponsors than to scratch around for new ones every year, so we work hard to make sure our sponsors get the results they’re looking for – which means understanding their objectives, so that their input adds value for all involved and work together to achieve them. 2010 sees Six Senses return as Title Sponsor, with Jaguar Cars and TAT returning as Co-sponsors. Da Vinci have upped the ante from Island Supporter to Co-sponsor, while QBE have returned after a couple of years absence, also as Co-sponsor. Amongst Media Partners, Official Suppliers and Island Partners, most are returning for at least a second year.”
Speaking about Six Senses’ Title Sponsorship, John Phillipson, the resort group’s Managing Director of Thailand said, “Six Senses is thrilled to be sponsoring Phuket Raceweek for the seventh consecutive year. With Bangkok’s troubles earlier in the year, this is a great way to say that Thailand is once again an outstanding place of peace, culture and natural beauty.”
Invited by Six Senses, double Olympic Gold Medal winner and one of the world’s leading sailors, Shirley Robertson, is at Evason Phuket in celebration and support of Six Senses Phuket Raceweek. Shirley is available for press interviews about her outstanding racing career and discussions with VIP guests. Shirley told Phuketindex: this was her first time at the beautiful regatta, having been to Kings Cup many times. “I hope to explain the complexions of sailing to simplify it for VIPs. As a journalist for CNN I am also keeping my eye out for stories. I hope to get out on a boat a bit, and the wind is good here, with fabulous scenery.” She has never retired from racing herself, and says British sailors continue to do so well, but with Olympics in UK in 2012 she’s on committee to help organise for all competitors to make it a great event at Weymouth on the south coast.
The latest Andaman Cabriolet, ‘Da Vinci’, sister ship to last year’s Six Senses Phuket Raceweek Multihull Class winner, ‘Nina’, flew over the trees and into the water at Chalong Bay. Launched just seven days before racing in the SEA Property Multihull Championship and Phuket Raceweek, builders Composite Catamarans maintain the tradition established last year of getting new boats in the water – just in time to compete. They had a ding dong battle with Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 ‘Thor’ during the SEA Property Multihull Championship last weekend and missed out on the overall racing class title by only four minutes on the deciding last race. The official launching at the Royal Phuket Marina on Tuesday, saw Thai Buddhist monks leading off with the blessing ceremony before the champagne celebrations and fireworks.
Aussie multihull designer Alan Carwadine has flopped off the Andaman Cabriolet hull and deck moulds to come up with his latest creation the Stealth 12.5 ‘Sidewinder’ in a long line of successful racing multihull’s that he is famous for. Apparently she is a few feet longer than the original Andaman Cabriolet ‘Nina’ and all up only weighs in at a little over 3 tons. While ‘Nina’ and the newly launched ‘Da Vinci’ have the same size mast and sails, the all new Stealth 12.5 ‘Sidewinder’ mast is 10 feet higher and bigger sails will generate a lot more all round power. Shortly after launching they came out to show off, motoring around the SEA Property Multihull Championship contestants and judging by the new sleek flowing look, they might be giving Henry Kaye’s ‘Seacart 30 Thor’ a run for line honours and depending on their handicap will give the rest of the nine boat class a real hurry up!
In IRC 2 the Royal Thai Navy has two boats, and one skipper Pornprom Sakultem told Phuketindex this was his first time in this regatta, with a new boat, but he previously did well in the Kings Cup as Phuket is such a nice place and he hopes to beat the other RTN crew, but this is “good fun and a chance to practice for serious competition.”
Six Senses Phuket Raceweek off to a slow start…
July 22nd: After some deliberation the 20 IRC monohull racers got divided into three classes according to their rating and potential performance. Hot off last weekends SEA Property International Multihull Championship nine boats are fronting up in the Multihull Class and eight Firefly 850 Sports in the one-design class. Two classic boats round out the order, making it a total of 39 boats contesting this year. The weather forecast did not look to promising and after a short wait, PRO Simon James managed to get the fleet away on a two island passage race. Some were a little to keen to get underway and a general recall for the combined IRC 2 & 3 classes even delayed the proceedings further. Hopes for another race were dashed as the wind did not pick-up and moved all over the place, so PRO James decided to call it a day in light of the circumstances.
Competitors found it difficult in the lee of the islands on the one race that was sailed today. This is where fortunes can be won and lost. From the press boat it looked like a game of snakes and ladders until they rounded the final hurdle and got back into the wind line. The boats that had a fast trip through the lee of Koh Aeo have in general, gone on to win their class.
Ben Copley’s Swan CS 42 Katsu led the IRC Racing class across the finish line but it was Scott Duncanson’s Phuket 8 Quantum Fusion M that snatched victory after handicaps were applied, leaving Katsu in second place. Up from Malaysia, Antony Hastings’ Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga with Aussie legend Fraser Jonson on the helm slotted into third place.
Peter Dyer’s IOR 3/4 tonner Sea Bees took out the daily double of line and handicap honours in the IRC 1 class. Then came a gaggle of Platu’s led by Mike Downard’s Tuay Lek and the Royal Thai Navy’s new acquisitions No’s 5 & 4 skippered by Jaray Tipsuk and Co. Pornprom Sakultem respectively.
The Russians are in town and Alex Takhovski showed their superior sailing skills when he drove the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS LeRo across the finish line to take out the daily double in fine style. Keith Garry’s Malaysian based X-412 BeauX Esprits happily slotted into second place. Despite returning late after the general recall, Horst Lakits’ Swan 55 Big A managed to climb back up into third place.
The battle for superiority in the Multihull Class continues with great intensity. Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 Thor continued on their winning ways from last weekend by scoring first and fastest in Race 1. Andy Pape skippering the new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci slotted into second place to renew their rivalry with Thor which is expected to go down to the wire again. David Liddell’s Corsair 37 Miss Saigon is never for behind and only needs a tiny bit more speed to improve on third place.
In the Firefly 850 Sport one-design class, Andrew Marshall’s Pink Lady skippered by Mark Pescott went gybe for gybe with Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo around the back of Koh Aeo. On the final stretch Mark took Pink Lady a little wider and was released from the light patch early and streaked off into the distance, never to be headed. Hans Rahmann on Voodoo fought back to regain second place. Always in the wings and ready to pounce Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi ended up in third place.
There are only two boats in the Classic class and on this occasion Gunther Nutt’s Friendship Sloop Kerida prevailed over Tom Howard’s 100 year old North Sea Fishing Boat Seraph.
Racing continues and as the weather forecast is for stronger winds over the weekend, all fingers are crossed that the prediction comes true.
July 23rd: Although the day dawned very overcast, the breeze kicked in just before start time and increased throughout the day to allow PRO Simon James to run two scheduled windward / leeward races and a island passage race to make up for yesterday’s lack of wind. The crews were raring to go and the ones that missed out on yesterday’s lottery, were ready to prove their worth by placing the boat higher up the order, where they expected to be. Some were a little to keen at the start and individually recalled for being over the line. The strong outgoing tide caught a few skippers by surprise as it tended to sweep them across the line on their approach. The last start of the day saw all the big boats in the racing class recalled which left the two Phuket 8’s clear to get a jump on them.
Scott Duncanson’s Phuket 8 Quantum Fusion M was fast out of the blocks to win Race 2 and added on to yesterday’s victory and were looking good on the IRC Racing class points table. Ben Copley’s Swan CS 42 Katsu were determined to convert the line honours wins into handicap victory. The crew buckled down and that’s just what they did by taking the daily double in Race 3 and 4 and have now moved up to the top of table for the time being. Not to be outdone, Antony Hastings’ much bigger Malaysian based Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga with Rolf Heemskerk on the helm today, is applying lots of pressure and by scoring 3rd, 4th, and 2nd places is sitting in 3rd overall and keeping everyone honest.
Back in 1976 the Farr 1104 Piccolo created history when she went on to win the Sydney Hobart Race on her debut year. Today in the hands of Bryan Gauson, Piccolo has under gone a major refit in Port Dickson, Malaysia and by winning three races today, has shown that she still retains some of her former glory and goes directly to the top of the IRC 2 leader board. Defending champion Jaray Tipsuk on Royal Thai Navy 5 has been keeping up with the leaders and with a 3, 2, 6 score line holds onto second overall and tied on points with Mike Downard’s fellow Platu 25 Tuay Lek in third overall. Stuart Williamson’s Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour of Whitby showed a sign of brilliance with 2nd place in Race 2 but has not managed any consistency to fall down the order. After yesterday’s win, Peter Dyer’s IOR 3/4 tonner Sea Bees, jumped the gun at the start line and the consequent recall may have unsettled the crew to end up down in fourth overall.
Keith Garry’s Malaysian based X-412 BeauX Esprits came to the fore and put one over the Russians on Alex Takhovski’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS LeRo and take the overall lead. John Caffin’s brand new Jeanneau J53 Don’t Think Twice skippered by James Hardie slipped into third place and is tied on points with Horst Lakits’ Swan 55 Big A.
By adding 3 wins to the tally and keeping a clean sheet, Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 Thor is dominating the Multihull Class, which is made up of various catamaran and trimaran designs. Andy Pape skippering the new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci continues to play bridesmaid, with two second and one third place. David Liddell’s Corsair 37 Miss Saigon holds onto third overall and has shared the placing’s with Neil Ayre’s Corsair 28 Shanghai Baby and Alan Carwadine’s Stealth 12.5 Sidewinder. At the start of Race 2 a loud bang was heard and upon investigation Alan Carwadine’s brand new Sidewinder hit the moored start boat, which left both crews not to impressed with the resultant damage.
By taking three bullets in the Firefly 850 Sport one-design class, Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo has a stranglehold on first overall. Fast off the start line and up the windward beat, then first away with the spinnaker seems to be the secret to success, on the only Quantum Sails outfitted boat. Always lurking in the wings Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi scored three 2nd places to step up and take over second overall. After winning yesterday’s opening round, Andrew Marshall’s Pink Lady skippered by Mark Pescott faltered a little with 4, 5, and 3rd places to just hang onto third overall. Damien Ford in charge of SEA Property claimed two 3rd places and a fourth to close in rapidly on the podium positions.
There are only two boats in the Classic class and on this occasion Tom Howard’s 100 year old North Sea Fishing Boat Seraph got the better of Gunther Nutt’s Friendship Sloop Kerida, which won the opening race yesterday. Racing continues tomorrow and as the weather forecast is for even stronger winds over the weekend, we are in for some more exciting action.