heat for Evolution Racing and Hi Fi...
Close racing between the 52 foot boats in the Racing Class continued with great abandon. Each leg some places changed and the elastic band continued to expand and contract as the skippers placed the boats in different wind lanes and heated up the angles. Just as Neil Pryde speared his Welbourn 52 across the finish line in Race 6, Ray Roberts picked up a strong gust on the leeward lay line to rapidly close in and finish only nine seconds behind Hi Fi. After handicap calculations they both have a Corrected Time of 2:10:24 which makes it a dead heat and possibly the first time in the history of the King's Cup. Sam Chan's TP52 Freefire was literally on fire, as they led the group around the course in both races but was dragged down the order as they have a higher handicap rating. Xiaqun Song and her all Chinese crew on Jelik V continued to shine and slotted into second place in Race 7, bringing some separation between Hi Fi and Evolution Racing. So after seven races Ray Roberts Evolution Racing still leads the standing but after posting two wins today, Neil Pryde's Hi Fi has closed to within three points and the series is still open for the taking. Frank Pong's 75’ Reichel Pugh, Jelik III holds onto third place but faces a strong challenge from four boats that are only a couple points behind.
The top IRC 1 runners are also having a close tussle and producing a mixed bag of results. By posting 1st and 3rd places, Matt Allen's Beneteau First 44.7 Zhik Ichi Ban comfortably leads the standings but has not had it all go his way and relied on the yachts low rating to pull them up the standings. Two second places for Peter Wintle's Kerr 37 Koull Baby lifts them into second overall, dropping Ben Copley's Swan CS 42 Katsu down to third, despite Katsu taking most the class line honours. Sarab Singh's Sydney 40 WindSikher lucked in Race 7, with first place as the fading wind favoured the yachts that tacked early and headed inshore. Depending on how the racing goes on Friday, Rick Overton/Kenn Eyears chartered Kerr 32 Kukukerchu and Rick Pointon's J130 JingJing representing the Beijing Sailing Centre are the only ones that can threaten the leaders for the minor podium positions.
The right royal battle in the IRC 2 class continues. CPO.1 Wiwat Poonpat’s Farr MRX Royal Thai Navy 1 and Jamie Watts on the chartered Humphries 3/4 Tonner Team Sea Bees traded 1st and 3rd places today, to remain tied on nine points at the top of the pointscore. Cdr. Pornprom Sakultem's Royal Thai Navy 4 and Brent Morgan’s Men At Work traded second places and as only one point separates them, the final races on Friday will determine the overall class placing's.
On the northern courses, Peter Forsythe & Jing Lee's X-55 Xena once again took line honours but this time they were not far enough in front of Peter Sorenson's chartered Beneteau F53 Baby Tonga to take the handicap honours. By consistently scoring third places, Jon Wardill's Cassidy 55 Australian Maid holds onto third overall. Depending on how many races are sailed on Friday and the placing's posted will determine the final outcome.
Although the Bareboat Charter Class has 22 entrants, they are roughly the same speed and finish together, which allowed PRO Ross Chisholm to run two races for them today. The Russian's on Novoderezhkin's SunOdyssey 44i Lychee made a fist of it by scoring two wins and jump up into second overall. Overnight leaders, Ilya Ermakov's SunOdyssey 32i Sarawadee slipped to ninth in Race 3 but rebounded with second in Race 4, to narrowly hold onto top spot in the pointscore and make it one, two for the Russian teams. Aussie Mike Crisp's Hanse 400e Venture is in third overall and as they only trail by a couple points, a good result on Friday could see them topple the Russians.
Three wins in a row for Paul Brunning's Pape 12.8m Dondang Sayang has them securing the three boat Classic Class title. Consistently scoring second and third places Simon Morris' staysail schooner Sirius 1935 and Rene Tiemessen's Rhodes 17.38m Alondra has them finishing up in the same order.
By scoring first place today in the Cruising Class, Jack Woodrow's Baveria 49 Linda jumped up into second overall. Barry Elsbury's Swan 15.6m Apsara continues to claim class line honours and getting relegated to second place, which sees them tied on four points with Linda for the podium places. Although Richard Macfarlane's Oceanis 411 Aida could only manage fourth place today, the two early race wins keeps them on top of the scoreboard.
In the Modern Classic Class, Thailand's Bo Sondergaard's S&S 47 Patrice III came to the fore on the coastal race to Patong and back. Second place for Canadian Jean Rheault's IOR One Tonner Souay 1 keeps them on top of the pointscore. Simon Jupe's Hardin 45 Waconda came through the shifty conditions to claim third place today. Despite finishing down the order, Reinhard Haiber's legendary Meridien 47 Pytheas Aura holds onto third overall.
Two more convincing wins for Hans Rahmann's Voodoo sees them take out the Firefly 850 Sports class with a day to spare. John Newnham's British chartered Twin Sharks, Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi and Andrew Marshall's Pink Lady juggled the placing's between them, to finish respectively in the standings.
Making up for yesterdays disaster, Henry Kaye and Fergus Wilmer's Seacart 30 Thor, went out determined to make amends and blitzed the Multihull fleet in Race 5. Quick off the startline, helped Alan Carwardine's Stealth 12.6 Team Lewmar survive the dying breeze and comfortably win Race 6. Two second places for David Liddel's Corsair 37 Miss Saigon sees them take over top spot in the pointscore. Third and fifth for Andy Pape's Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci relegates them to second overall by one point and as the series comes to an end all three podium places are open for the taking on the final day of racing.
Lay day tomorrow and the final races for the overall regatta series follows on Friday. On Saturday a unique experiment is being conducted. There will be combined fleet races for the IRC and OMR classes. This allows cruisers to take on the 'grand prix' racers on a level-playing field and is the first combined fleet race of its kind in Asia.
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