into the final 3 rounds...
When we left off, after the Singapore Straits Regatta, Ray Roberts TP52 Evolution Racing and Neil Pryde's custom Welbourn 52 Hi Fi, have once again run away at the top of the scoreboard. Roberts has won four of the five regatta's they entered and have what looks like a commanding three point lead in the AYGP Championship - Under the recently introduced "Six regatta's to count - scoring system", Neil Pryde mathematically still has a chance, if he wins the next two regatta's they both enter and Ray Roberts finishes down the order. It is so close, that we dare not send the New 2010-11 Evolution Sails AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year trophy, taking shape in Pt Dickson to the engravers just yet.
Thirteen skippers and twelve boats have scored points in the six regattas held so far. Although Ray Roberts and Neil Pryde sit on top of the 2010-11 AYGP Championship, this has not deterred the other competitors from having a go at them. In fact, at the final King's Cup press conference, Ray Roberts admitted that their presence has lifted the standard of racing in the Asian region, which now includes five TP52s, to be as good as anywhere in the world. The final results belie the level of close competition. Often the light and changing conditions produce numerous place changes and the dueling duo do not have it all their own way. The exceptionally close racing usually comes down to the last race and in the overall results just one point difference between Evolution Racing and Hi Fi, that also delivered an unprecedented dead heat in race six at the hotly contested King's Cup.
Hot from taking line honours in the San Fernando Race, Sam Chan TP52 Freefire must start favourite at the Commodore's Cup. It won't be easy as his Hong Kong counterparts Frank Pong's 75ft Reichel Pugh Jelik II, Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Mills 40 EFG Bank Mandrake and Geoff Hill's TP52 Strewth taking on the Philippine workhorses, Ray Ordoveza's Excel 53 Karakoa and Ernesto Echauz's Sydney 46 Centennial, have won regatta's in tricky Subic Bay before and are again looking forward to the challenge of securing the title. Whatever the outcome the top five placed yachts will be awarded valuable points that go towards the final overall placing's in the annual AYGP rankings.
Meanwhile the dueling duo of Roberts and Pryde will be fighting it out at the Top of the Gulf. They won't have it all their own way as Hannes Waimer's TP52 Team Premier, all the way from Dubai are still lurking in the wings and Royal Varuna Yacht Club Commodore, Kevin Whitcraft, is back with his renamed GP42, Won Ma Rang. Matt Allen's Beneteau First 44.7 Zhik Ichi Ban has been repaired after the King's Cup beaching and proved to be a formidable opponent last year when they almost toppled Evolution Racing and were only separated by the last race resail. The IRC handicap system takes into account the different yacht designs, thus a well sailed Beneteau 44.7 can compete on a equal footing with a professionally sailed fully optimized TP52 racing yacht.
We are always looking at ways to lift the profile of Asian events on the International scene and have gone along with Cap'n Bill Gasson's forum for regional regatta organizers and key competitors on the 4th May after the TOTG Regatta. Topics for discussion include networking the regions regatta's, forward planning, dealing with the media, synchronization of classes, courses, timing, race officials as well as broadening the scope of the AYGP to include other class associations at their events.
At the end of each season, the Five-Star events on the championship come under scrutiny and decisions taken on which events to be included in the calendar and how to score the following year are made. This process is a "Work in Progress" throughout the year and has evolved over the nine seasons the prestigious awards have been presented. We are still testing a few changes during the present AYGP and have a few new ideas coming online next season.
Check out the Asian Racing Calendar for the all year round racing season, held at some of the finest tropical island resorts in Asia. Those interested in Fly In, Charter a boat and Fly Out holidays or seeking crewing positions should Pick a suitable Event and scour their website for relevant information.
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