Cup rolls out the red carpet...
Seventy one yachts in eleven classes have registered so far and can be broken down to 24 IRC racers, 31 cruisers and 16 multihull's. The regatta also encompasses a fast-growing International Dinghy racing program, for Optimist Boy & Girl, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial, Laser Standard, 420 and Topper dinghy's, designed to promote and encourage youth and Olympic sailing in Thailand. Plus provide sustainable growth to the Thai marine industry, as these young sailors, can expect to go on and become crew on keelboat/multihull racing teams and compete in future years.
The weather forecast for the first half of the week, is for Easterly's, turning NE in the mid to low teens, during the racing hours and fading away on the last couple of days of the regatta. These are classic King's Cup conditions and should provide great racing around the islands and has something for everyone.
Four top racing teams are going head to head for the IRC 0 title. One week ago at the Raja Muda Regatta, Sarab Singh's Welbourn 52 Windsikher II proved that PKCR Chairman Kevin Whitcraft's all conquering TP52 THA 72 is infallible and aims to repeat the dose on their home waters. All eyes will be on Ray Roberts new generation TP52 Team Hollywood (Ex Provezza) that was specially acquired to overcome THA 72's dominance at Asian regattas. After a long absence, Marcel Liedts returns on his Ker 46 Zannekin and while the big boats fight over line honours, they are aiming to indulge in the handicap stakes.
Of the six IRC 1 yachts entered, Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Sydney GTS 43 Mandrake III are the defending champion, Scott Bradley's Sydney 40 Emagine, Craig Douglas' Farr 40 Ramrod are used to winning titles, but it's a different story at the King's Cup. They come up against Mati Sepp's chartered Swan 42 Club Loco representing Estonia, Craig Nicholls top performing Sydney 40 Mod Aquari II and the Russians on Alexey Mashkins Cookson 12m MegaZip, who save their best performances for Asia's premier event each year.
An interesting 11 boat lineup in the IRC 2 class, are different designs and performance oriented. The defending champion Mumm 30 Judy returns as Highlead Encourage and 2nd placed China's Shen Sheng on Farr 1104 Big Boys Racing (Farrgo Express) aim to go one better this time. They face stiffer competition, in the form of Rob Carr's J 130 Jing Jing, Andrew McDermott's Corby 36 Jessandra II, Arnold van Tulder's Farr 41 MX Octopussy, Shane Armitage's Farr 1104 Piccolo and Team Ludwigsthal's Ker 32CR Ludwigsthall (Getaway Ichi) have stepped on the podium here before. Morton Jakobsen's relatively unknown VX One Design Sportsboat Over Here could be a surprise package, while John Grendon Frers 41 Di Hard has some history on his side. Racing two handed last week, Aussie Max Palleschi's IOR Farr 40 Prime Factor, cleaned up in the IRC 4 class, at the Raja Muda and expects to carry on with this form. Urii Firsov's IOR Farr 43 Uminoko steps up this year after decimating the Cruising Class last year.
Three yachts in the Premier Cruising Class face an uphill task of stopping Thailand's Ithinai Yingsiri's X55 Pine-Pacific from making it five victories in a row. Geoff Hill's Smith 72 Antipodes are always up for a good fight and aim to make up for last years final race disappointment. Having the lowest IRC rating, Andy Cocks Beneteau First 50 Firstlight are looking to come from behind and leave their mark in the handicap stakes.
This event is the sixth point scoring regatta on the 2018-19 AsianYachting Grand Prix (AYGP) and gives the early leaders on the Western Circuit, Ray Roberts TP52 Team Hollywood, John Newnham's Firefly 850 Twin Sharks, Max Palleschi's IOR Farr 40 Prime Factor and Chris Mitchell's Naut 40 Lady Bubbly chances to improve their standings and overtake the present leader Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Sydney GTS 43 Mandrake III. Ultimately the skipper and yacht with the highest pointscore at the end of the season, will be crowned the 2017-18 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year. Check out the 2018-19 AYGP Rankings, by clicking on Skipper - Yacht - Regatta and Scoring System.
The bulk of the monohull entries come in the Bareboat A & B (15), Modern Classic (4) and Cruising (12) classes. They aren't just here to make up the numbers but are seriously contesting the class titles, while having fun in the exotic tropics. Entries in these classes represent the United Nations of Sailing, with the Russians coming in force with 11 entries, followed by the Chinese with (7), Japan (3) and one apiece from New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, United Kingdom, Austria, Australia and Malaysia. Igor Ginzburg's Sun Odyssey 409 Sunsail Phailin are back to defend the Bareboat B title and Xiong Ting's Standfast 40 Mermaid (Mas Allegre) the Modern Classic class title. Previous Cruising Class winner Chris Mitchell's Naut 40 Lady Bubbly has some stiff opposition in the form of Eric Alfredson's Oyster 56 Lisanne and Philippe Dallee's Hanse 545 Aurore and looking forward to the challenge.
Although the media tend to concentrate on the monohull racing classes, this regatta has the largest Multihull fleet regularly competing in Asia. Phuket is home to several world renown Multihull designers and builders, so it comes as no surprise, they are fielding 15 platforms in the Racing, Cruising and the highly competitive Firefly one-design class.
The local boats are likely to be over shadowed by Meitatsu Fukumoto / Seng Huang Lee’s ORMA 60 SHK Scallywag FUKU skippered by David Witt. This flying machine is capable of 30 plus knots in the right conditions and faster than the wind in light conditions. While island passage races will allow them to stretch their legs, slow tacking on shorter windward/leeward courses could be their downfall. Fastest of the local boats, Dan Fidock’s Moore 36 Fugazi could give them a run for their money, while Thomas Valentin's Diem 24 Blade Runner IX, David Fuller's Stealth 11.8 Java and if Goran Andersson's Antrim 40 Angela can get a move on, are looking to capitalise in the handicap stakes. The Scallywags in full flight, are a sight to behold and we are thankful to them, for bringing the boat to Asian waters and let us see them in action.
Five entries in the one design Firefly 850 Sports Class, will have to be ready from the beginning, if they are to stand a chance against John Newnham's all conquering Twin Sharks from snatching their fourth title in a row. Arch rival Hans Rahmann's Voodoo have settled on second place on recent outings but aim to reclaim some of their former glory. In past years Japan's Natsuki Motoyoshi's Mil Grace / Frog has put up a good fight with the leaders and if Neil Ayre cracks the whip on Mamba, they could also be in the running. Peter Taylor's Ballerina is relatively new to the scene and could spring a few surprises.
The growing popularity of cruising catamarans in the region has produced a racing revival in the Cruising Multihull class. Ranging from Grant Horsfield's Fountaine Pajot 67 Arabella.down to Ryan Merrill's Pulse 600 Happy Rogues (Yeah Baby). Challenges will come from Zhang Yong Dong's Andaman Cabriolet Big Boys Sailing Team 2 (Davinci), Zam Bevan's newly incorporated Pescott SHN 10.6 Sho,Vel, Petr Kochnev's Leopard 444 Keirana and Andre Lee's Star Trek, rounds out the 6 boat fleet.
The regatta is organised by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket. Held each year during the first week of December, the 2018 event is already living up its reputation, as the ultimate showcase for Thailand's seafaring heritage.
The stage is set, registration and skippers briefing completed, last minute sail measurement, new IRC certificates being processed and final class reshuffling completed. First up, it's time for the traditional opening ceremony and welcome party at the Beyond Resort Kata.
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