of a brilliant event full of action
This year there are 10 winners at the 24th running of the Phuket King's Cup. Each of them has earned the respect of their peers through delivering close, consistent competition in challenging conditions. (See AY Race Report 4)
Those winners are Ray Roberts' Evolution Racing (Racing Class), Matt Allen's Ichi Ban (IRC 1), Peter Dyer's Team Sea Bees (IRC 2), Peter Sorensen's Baby Tonga (Premier Cruising), Ilya Ermakov's Sarawadee (Bareboat Charter), Paul Brunning's Dondang Sayang (Classic), Richard Macfarlane's Aida (Cruising), Jean Rheault's Souay 1 (Modern Classic), Hans Rahmann's Voodoo (Firefly) and David Liddell's Miss Saigon (Multihull).
The cup attracted 107 yachts representing 16 nations across the 10 classes. Mixed among the competitors were sailors of all levels from club weekend racers to America's Cup, Olympic and world champion sailors.
At the start of the week the 2010 King's Cup had all the potential to deliver a brilliant event and by the end of the week, that is exactly what happened.
The quality of entrants in each of the classes has grown from last year. The results were exceptionally close coming down to the last race on the last day counting for everything in several classes. Few classes were dominated by one boat. Many races saw the winners and losers separated by a matter of seconds on corrected times.
In the Racing Class, which included five TP52s, the final results saw just one point difference between Evolution Racing and HiFi. By winning this year, Ray Roberts joins the exclusive group of Bill Gasson and Neil Pryde that have won four King's Cups in their sailing careers.
In IRC2 Team Sea Bees and Royal Thai Navy 1 also came down the wire with one point separating these two exceptionally competitive teams.
The Premier Class, otherwise known as the furniture class, was stronger this year with 15 entrants, up from nine in 2009. The two top place getters, Baby Tonga and Xena, drove each other mercifully during their four races to deliver an equal scorecard of two firsts and two seconds.
In the Multihull's it was one point difference across the top three place getters; Miss Saigon, Thor and Da Vinci.
There was the usual range of dramas on the water and a few that could never have been anticipated.
The traditional light air King's Cup conditions returned, at least until the last few hours on the last day of the series. The IRC2 and Multihull class entrants had to change gears quickly for some fast, furious racing while the cruiser/racer fleet leaders turned around to see their fellow class members quickly closing the gap as they bought the breeze with them.
Ray Roberts Evolution Racing and Neil Pryde's HiFi delivered a dead heat in race six. They were just 11 seconds apart at the finish and equal on corrected time.
Strewth lost a crew member overboard when the starboard spinnaker sheet caught him behind the legs lifting him straight over the side. Quick action by the crew ensured the crewman was back on board safely with only his pride dented.
Frank Pong's dream of seeing an all-Chinese team compete in the Racing Class was achieved with Olympian, Song Xia Quin at the helm and the team finishing in a credible ninth place.
Henry Kaye's Thor missed the radio call on the location of the finishing mark in race four, then had to turn back to round the mark, costing them time, places and ultimately a back-to-back overall class win.
On Reinhard Haiber's Pytheaus Aura, one of the crew members sadly passed away during the night and was only discovered as the yacht was heading out to the start line.
Ichi Ban went into the King's Cup history books achieving three back-to-back wins in the IRC1 class, matching Bill Glasson's hat-trick of Keelboat Racing class wins in the early 90s.
Freefire finally found themselves at the top of the fleet winning line and handicap honours in the last race for the Racing class.
The largest boat in the fleet, the 50m S/Y Perseus, provided a stunning back-drop to this year's King's Cup. Certainly what they lacked in speed in the light airs, they made up for in sheer elegance.
Unfortunately the light winds of the series disappeared for the last day of the regatta, replaced by 20 knot plus westerly and turned the 2m sea swell into rolling breakers on Kata Beach. The huge swell battered the 100 odd anchored yachts in the bay and made them vulnerable to washing ashore and almost impossible to launch boats from the beach, so crews could venture out to secure the anchor or move the boats around to the East coast for shelter. As nine boats washed ashore, racing was cancelled for the day as the yacht rescue mission commenced in earnest. (See AY Race Report 5) More photos at Capt Marty Facebook and view SAIL TV Day 5 video on the AsianYachting - Capt Marty YouTube Channel
Race committee member, former Regatta Chairman and a competitor in 24 King's Cups, Chris King, reflected on the last regatta-day drama. 'Our Regatta Director, Simon James, has worked exceptionally hard since 3am, when the storm first blew up, trying to get all the resources we could to try and help these boats off the beach. The perception among a lot of sailors is that we haven't done anything. The fact is we haven't succeeded in doing what needed to be done, but it is not from want of trying. All the resources we've got, all the resources of the Navy and many of the bigger boats that are out there on the water that have the horsepower to help have been roped in.
'It is absolutely an abnormal situation. I live in Thailand and have been here for 40 years. I have spent a lot of time in Phuket and a lot of time on the water (here). This time of year, I have never, ever, seen anything like this. This is December. The wind is supposed to be blowing from completely the opposite direction.'
The introduction of the much anticipated combined fleet racing for the IRC and Multihull Challenge trophies, scheduled as the concluding event of the regatta, was cancelled due to the wild conditions of the last day.
As life must go on, the Royal Awards prize-giving ceremony was held in the evening and followed by another legendary regatta party. Check out the 2010 PKCR AY Photo Gallery The sailors and race committee members have already started talking about the 2011 Phuket King's Cup.
'Next year is our 25th anniversary and the King's seventh cycle. He is 84 years old. This event started to celebrate the King's fifth cycle, his 60th birthday. The King is the patron of the event, very revered and he is a sailor. Next year we are going to celebrate that. We are also going to celebrate that it's 25 years since we started the King's Cup. It is going to be big and exciting.' King said.
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