the racing class
Recently this process gained momentum when two high profile boat building companies introduced two new state of the art racing boat designs into the region and found up to four owners, willing to bring a racing crew together to campaign their boat at selected events on the Asian Racing Calendar.
After the taste of International success at the Rolex Commodore's Cup in the UK, Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth, intension is to bring the Mills 40, EFG Bank Mandrake to Hong Kong and join in the local racing scene. Sam Chan has purchased a latter version TP 52 Ffreefire and successfully competed on the 2010 Giraglia Rolex Cup in Europe (See video) before packing her up and shipping to Hong Kong.
Both these owners have their former rides, Farr/Mills 51 also named EFG Bank Mandrake and an older generation TP 52 Ffreefire 52 to plan there sailing around. These yachts could either come up for sale or charter, further swelling the ranks of the racing class or to use on the home front while the other yacht is away competing on the Asian circuit.
Admiral Frank Pong maintains a big fleet of yachts in Hong Kong, which keeps the permanent Philippine and Malaysian crew busy, either working on a variety of boat optimization projects and running extensive yacht racing campaigns throughout East and South East Asian waters each year. Frank's latest acquisition is the Laurie Davidson designed TP52 (Formerly Foxy Lady IV) and renamed Jelik 5 after a long line of Jelik's. Ten young sailors from mainland China, have been receiving intensive coaching in Hong Kong and posted second place overall finish in the IRC Div A at the popular Hebe Haven Yacht Club - Typhoon Series 2010. Although the boat was built by Cooksons in New Zealand in 2000, she still has a great deal of potential in her and has recently undergone a program of improvement. For many years Frank has been a committed supporter of sailing in China, and is very keen to encourage more ‘domestic’ sailors to compete in regional and international regattas to further develop sailing in China. The Typhoon Series proved to be a good opportunity for the Jelik 5 crew to start work as a team and their performance has demonstrated that they have the potential and ability to compete with the best at regional regattas in Asia. After the Typhoon Series, Team Jelik 5’s efforts will be directed towards the China Coast Regatta (Hong Kong, 15-17 October) and then the China Cup International Regatta (Longcheer, Daya Bay, 29 Oct – 01 Nov). During China Cup, the crew will be joined by Song Xiaqun - six times China National Champion in 470s, gold medallist at the 2002 Asian Games (420 class), and helmswoman in the Chinese Yngling crew that finished eighth in the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Qingdao.
Recently Edmund Umali from Liquid Xperience Inc in the Philippines together with a very enthusiastic Aussie Tim Long the Soto40 Austral/Asian agent, organized meetings in Singapore, Hong Kong and Subic Bay, Philippines for interested persons to discuss the establishment of a Soto 40ft One Design (OD) racing fleet in Asia, based around this very cool racing yacht from the pen of Javier Soto Acebal and built in Argentina. (See video) Something very new and you have to admire their approach (how many yacht builders/agents have bothered to do this in Asia before?). Initially they are working on bringing two and maybe more Soto 40's to Asia and recently confirmed the first one will be in Phuket by April/May next year.
Since selling his TP52, boatless Bill Bremner in Singapore has been looking for something less complicated (asymmetric kites only, bare-assed racing machine) - fast and modern... definitely fast - big cockpit with loads of working crew room - no more than 10-max crew needed to be competitive... but can sail for fun with 3 or 4 and can comply with offshore racing rules (think: China Sea Race, HKG - Vietnam Race etc). The costs of running a forty foot yacht compared with a fifty foot racing campaign can quadruple the budget and quickly spin out of reach of the average man in the street to compete at the same level as professionally sponsored racing teams. By downsizing Bill is interested in getting a 40-ft racing division going in Asia (and not perpetuating the nose-bleeding, bank-account-draining "arms race" that is going on in the 50+ft range!).
Yacht racing enthusiasts also enjoyed an evening with Rob Brown from McConaghy Boats and racing yacht designer Jason Ker from Ker Design when they presented the new Ker 40 IRC One Design racing yacht at Dempsey House in Singapore. The entertaining evening was an opportunity to find out more about the yacht they expect to take the IRC world by storm and ask any questions face to face with the unbeatable team that is behind the revolutionary new Ker 40. Two very well known die hard racers based in Singapore have reportedly placed orders and a third from Perth, Australia is always sniffing around the Asian scene. These new boats won't be available until the middle of next year and will be keenly watched as they make their debut.
This is good news for existing 40ft boat owners, as some have felt a bit out of class competing against the big boys. After winning SS Phuket Raceweek Ben Copley's Swan CS 42 Katsu leads the charge towards winning the 2010-11 Evolution Sails AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year awards which is updated at: http://asianyachting.com/news/AYGP10-11.htm Rumours also abound that Ben is looking for something a little bit bigger to put the Phuket based team on more of a equal footing with the big boys in the racing class.
Commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Kevin Whitcraft has only just started campaigning his GP42 AA late last year and has entered Team Phuket King's Cup, made up of former national representatives and sailors with SEA Games experience in the 2010 China Cup International Regatta (CCIR) at the Vanke Longcheer Yacht Club in Shenzhen, P.R. China. They will be racing one of the identical Beneteau First 40.7s in the One Design Class and will be up against 30 other teams from around the world. 'We're looking forward to meeting fellow international teams, and some highly competitive One Design racing,' said Kevin Whitcraft. This is also a great opportunity for the crew to hone up their racing skills before tackling the prestigious King's Cup back in home waters in December.
Sarab Singh's Sydney 40MOD WINDSIKHER recently won the SMU/RM Western Circuit in Singapore and will welcome the forty footers when they arrive on the scene. Singh expects it will give them the hurry up needed for them to race up to their full potential on the circuit. Presently they are well placed for crew in Singapore but worries about fending off poachers when three fully blown racing campaigns come online next year are already appearing.
The big hitters on the Asian fleet racing scene are Kiwi Neil Pryde and Aussie Ray Roberts. Between the two of them they have won five out of the eight annual AYGP Championships held so far. Hong Kong based Neil Pryde has actively campaigned a variety of racing boats over 20 years in the Asian region. Sydney based Ray Roberts has run duel campaigns on the eastern seaboard of Australia as well as through Asian waters for the last 15 years. Both rely mainly on top professional crews from Australia and NZ to bring the best results to the table. Neither team is sitting back resting on their laurels and have carried out further optimization on their rides and crew selection as the serious side of the 2010-11 regatta season gets underway.
Defending AYGP Champion, Ray Roberts has opted for the new keel fin and bulb package on his Farr TP52 Evolution Racing plus some internal carbon stiffening and a complete overhaul of the deck fittings, mast and rigging at Raffles Marina in Singapore. This job alone required the manufacture of the keel fin in New Zealand, lead bulb in Australia, packaging and freight to Singapore, four high tech professionals and materials especially bought in to complete all the tasks and put the boat back together again. When ready she will be delivered across the hurricane strewn South China Sea before taking on all comers at the China Coast Regatta in Hong Kong, (15-17 Oct) and the HK to Vietnam Race starting three days latter on October 20th.
Never to be written off is Hong Kong based Geoff Hill's TP52 Strewth and Chris Meads Corby 43 Full Metal Jacket are always on the pace when they join in the action. As the racing swings over to the Philippines, Ray Ordoveza's Excel 53 Karakoa and Judes Echauz Sydney 46 Subic Centennial have always put up a good fight in their home waters.
In view of all the world's problems, you can be excused now, if you think all this boat preperation seems a bit futile. Why do they do it? Because they can and yacht racing is there passion. Come high or low water, you can bet your bottom dollar that the annual AYGP is the best way to fairly grade competing Boatowners and Skippers ability to successfully run a full-on racing campaign through Asian waters over the 2010-11 Season.
More on the
Grand Prix Championship
Highlights of all the racing class action at the 10 X 2009-10 AYGP events including the Skipper and Yacht of the Year awards ceremony can be found at: http://asianyachting.com/photos/photo.htm?AYGP0910 If your still looking for more action, all the individual Regatta Galleries since 2004 and much much more can be accessed from the AY Photo Library at http://asianyachting.com/photos/default.htm
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