12th Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009

Tiny Firefly stars in famous Phuket sailing regatta
By Roger Foley

30.1.09: The tiny Firefly Voodoo Child was the toast of sailors last night after running up a very credible performance during the four day annual Phang Nga Bay Regatta.

Helmed by owner Hans Rahmann, the twin hulled Firefly 'the first out of the batch' ran up a 3,1,1 and a 2 over the Regatta week. On one occasion (Day 2) Rahmann sailed right through the record-sized fleet of 51 yachts to take line honours six minutes ahead of the much larger Yo!2, a Farr 40.

His performance is even more incredible given he only bought the Firefly just before the King's Cup Regatta last December.

This year's Phang Nga Bay Regatta began on December 27 and ran from the new Ao Po Grand Marina at the north-eastern end of Phuket Island to Laem Sak in the far north on day 1, south to the Paradise Resort on Koh Yao Noi on day 2, then across to Railay Beach in Krabi on day 3 then back to Au Chalong on day 4.

Conditions were near perfect on day 1 as a 6 to 7 knot north-easterly forced yachts to zig zag up the bay past beautiful limestone cliffs and idyllic islands till the wind petered out and then filled again.

Although conditions lightened later in the week, the courses for the six division fleet were rarely changed. At times the fleet looked as though it was standing still on a painted sea, but then ribbons of breeze would appear, and away the yachts would sail again.

Peter Ahern from Perth put up a huge performance on Y0!2, chalking a 1,1,2, and a 1 to take the Racing Division 3 points ahead of rival Katsu (Ben Copley). Yo!2 is a high performance Farr 40 built by DK Yachts of Malacca. It is normally berthed at Port Dickson.

Katsu is a 42 foot Swan New York Club 1 Design class which is normally anchored off Panwa Bali in Au Chalong. Both yachts put up a stunning performance in the generally light airs of Phang Nga Bay.

Other notable performers over the week included Phoenix (Niels HS Degenkowl) snatching the Cruising A class on the last day, Remington (Jim Ellis) three wins to secure Cruising B two years in a row, Sunsail Princess Sharda (Luke Mills) in the Darwin One design Class and The Sting (Dave Wales) narrow one point win in the Multihull Class.

Seven teams competed by the Darwin Yacht Club, and according to Race Director Simon James, all are keen to compete again next year.

There were a few incidents during the week. One charter boat sailed too far north and ended up on a sand bar. Another was caught by the out-going tide at the Paradise Resort and ended up on the reef, much to the skippers embarrassment, a couple of the Darwin crew misjudged strong current and ended up under the very long bowsprit of start boat Seraph, and on one occasion, the huge super yacht Silolona got close enough to Seraph for their dinghies to kiss and make up!

More information on the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, visit http://www.bayregatta.com

Major sponsors of the highly popular regatta included Raimon Land, SEA Yachting, Kingfisher Beer, QBE, the Ao Chalong Yacht Club, Ao Po Grand Marina and Outrigger Serenity Terraces Resort.

Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009
Overall Results              
Racing   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
Yo!2 Peter Ahern 1 1 2 1 5 2 3
Katsu Ben Copley 2 2 3 2 9 3 6
Wings Fredrick Roswold 3 3 1 4 11 4 7
Lawana Escape Pana Trungkabunchar 4 4 4 3 15 4 11
Venture Mike Crisp 5 5 5 5 20 5 15
Cruising A   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
Phoenix Niels H.S. Degenkowl 9 2 1 1 13 9 4
Minx Mick Keeley 1 1 2 2 6 2 4
Tuay Lek David Hery 2 3 3 3 11 3 8
Fidgi Dick Sanders 3 4 4 4 15 4 11
AMC Intan Andy Dowden 4 7 9 5 25 9 16
Kinnon Olivier Payen 7 6 5 7 25 7 18
Sunsail Bintan Greg Leach 6 9 6 6 27 9 18
Fei Mao John Coffin 5 5 9 9 28 9 19
Sunsail Danaya Paul Hatzer 8 8 7 8 31 8 23
Cruising B   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
Remington Jim Ellis 6 1 1 1 9 6 3
Thalassa 1 4 3 3 11 4 7
Cunning Plan Rob Azzopardi 8 3 2 4 17 8 9
Fistral Bill Crump 4 2 4 6 16 6 10
Pytheus Aura 7 9 5 2 23 9 14
Big A Horst Lakits 2 5 8 8 23 8 15
Rascal Gavin Wellman 3 8 6 7 24 8 16
Rusalka Kevan Perrins 10 6 7 5 28 10 18
Sudsakorn too Tord Lisborg 5 10 # 0 26 0 26
Thasos Greg Brennan 9 7 # 11 41 14 27
Amandla Star Chris Kingsley-Smith 12 11 9 10 42 12 30
Smystery Charles Hay 11 12 # 9 44 12 32
Simone Roger Harris 13 13 # 14 50 14 36
Smoke Mark Mizner 14 14 # 12 53 14 39
Tzigane John Greenwood 15 15 # 13 58 15 43
Patrick Phillipe Dallee 16 17 # 15 65 17 48
Jelita Bob McIntyre 17 16 # 0 49 0 49
Darwin One Design   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
Sunsail Princess Sharda Luke Mills 6 2 1 2 11 6 5
Sunsail Princess Athena Mike Savage 3 3 2 1 9 3 6
Sunsail Princess Arieta Michael Bates 2 1 4 3 10 4 6
Sunsail Princess Anna John Mills 1 4 3 4 12 4 8
Sunsail Princess Christina Ross Andrews 4 6 6 5 21 6 15
Sunsail Princess Isabella Sam Cleland 6 5 5 6 22 6 16
Firefly 850   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
Voodoo Child Hans Rahmann 3 1 1 2 7 3 4
Twin Sharks Bill Phelps 2 2 3 1 8 3 5
Moto Inzi Roger Kingdon 4 3 2 3 12 4 8
Sea Property Peter Dyer 1 5 5 5 16 5 11
The Frog Chris Jongeerius 5 4 4 4 17 5 12
Multihull   1 2 3 4 TOTAL DISCARD FINAL
The Sting Dave Wales 1 2 1 3 7 3 4
Summersalt Mark Pescott 6 1 3 1 11 6 5
Pimalai Charm Bob Garner 3 3 2 2 10 3 7
Miss Saigon David Liddell 4 6 5 4 19 6 13
Xcatriot Bob Brindley 2 4 8 8 22 8 14
Zhuka Richard Eyre 7 7 4 5 23 7 16
Dingo Richard Simpson 8 5 6 7 26 8 18
Happy Feet Matthavarat Titapan 5 8 7 6 26 8 18

12th Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009

Day 3 - Most picturesque day's sailing
by Dawn Del Vecchio

29 Jan 2009: The tide was against the fleet for the start of race day three of the Phang Nga Bay Regatta. With three knots of wind coming from the northeast and a down wind course, spinnakers were up early during what proved to be a most picturesque day's sailing.

The start order was changed in expectation of a quick race, with Cruising A starting first, followed by Cruising B and the Darwin single designs. Multihulls were next before a few minutes pause, then the racing class was out the gate at the horn, followed by the Fireflies.

The course took the fleet past tens of craggy, limestone islets - a dramatic canvas for the colours of spinnakers in light wind. Shortly before 1000 hrs, as the fleet reached the first mark near Koh Pak Bla, the wind dropped back to one or two knots, leaving some of the vessels within a ring of a karst-studded, calm waters. Another early drifter day.

Hope came when Race Officer Simon James informed the fleet that a southwest wind was headed their way at about five knots, coming up from the second mark at Koh Hong. About 40 minutes later the wind picked up, with sailors making variable progress as they passed the second mark. Race officials shortened the course in two places, and despite the pace, only three vessels retired for the day.

Finishes today offer a good indication of who stands to win overall. In the Racing division, Yo!2 took a surprising second, after Wings came in first by sixteen seconds on corrected time. Katsu, taking third, and Wings, now have a battle on their hands for second and third place overall.

In the Cruising A Division, Phoenix won both line honors and corrected time, putting them in a long shot position to take an overall win if they take first tomorrow. This would threaten Minx's otherwise secure position. Taking second today, Minx was followed by Tuay Lek in third.

Remington took another first today in Cruising B, followed by Cunning Plan, with Thalassa in third. Tomorrow's performances for Remington and Thalassa will be key in determining overall first for the Cruising B class.

'The Darwin One Design class is still very open,' said Principal Race Officer Simon James. 'Any of four can take first, based on tomorrow's performance.' Today's results found newlywed Luke Mills at the top of the heap with Princess Sharda, Princess Athena came second, with John Mills, spearhead of the Darwin contingent and father of the groom bringing Princess Anna in for third. The three vessels, along with Princess Arieta, are all in the running for top prize tomorrow.

In the Firefly 850 class, Voodoo Child took first over the line and on corrected time again, followed by Bill Phelps on Twin Sharks. Either could end up with an overall win following tomorrow's race. Third in the Fireflies today was Moto Inzi, who will have to watch out for SEA Property tomorrow in order to maintain an overall third.

'The battle is on between Pimalai Charm and Summersault for second place,' said Simon James. Sting, who took first today, has a strong hold on the overall first place position. In today's race, Pimalai Charm took second and Summersault came third.

For more information on the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, visit http://www.bayregatta.com

12th Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009

Small Firefly cleans up fleet
By Roger Foley and Jessie Ryan

28.1.09: The small Firefly catamaran Vodoo Child sailed right through the 51 boat fleet to take l.ine honours in Day Two of the Phang Nga Bay sailing regatta off Phuket, Thailand.

It was a brilliant display of sailing prowess by owner/skipper Hans Rahmann who picked the wind shifts and played the current  to move through the fleet to better many of the 'hot' boats.

A record 51 boats are taking part in the regatta, that began off the Ao Po Grand Marina on Tuesday (Jan 27). The regatta runs over four days and follows a course to the northern end of Phang Nga Bay, across to Krabi, and then to the south end of Phuket Island.

The course takes participants close to the highly photogenic 300 metre limestone karsts that have made the area famous throughout the world. Though stunningly beautiful, the area can be a nightmare for racing yachts challenged by light winds and strong currents.

The Farr 40 footer Yo!2 owned by Australian lawyer Peter Ahern, took both line and handicap honours on Day One, heading off a challenge by local-based boat Katsu.

Both these bigger boats had to take a back seat, however, on Day Two as Voodo Child sailed right through the fleet and past the bigger boats to take the horn on the line.

Conditions on Day One were excellent as a light north-easterly remained throughout much of the day. Today, however, the breeze moved from the north, to the north-east then to the west, then eventually around to the south-south west.

Strong current on the start line resulted in two of the Darwin-based teams being swept down on to the start boat Seraph and becoming stuck on Seraph's very low bowsprit. As Race Manager Simon James later said, 'They had been warned & its not as if they don't have tides to contend with in Darwin - sometimes up to 11 metres!'

Many of the yachts also missed the wind shifts and ended up in a tight bunch at the top of Ko Pai and later again off Ko Sum. Others who picked the wind, quickly glided past.

Tomorrow (January 29) yachts will race from Paradise Resort (at the north end of Ko Yao Noi), south-east towards Krabi through the Hong (Krabi) group of islands. The weather forecast suggests light airs and tough competition.

For more information on the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, visit http://www.bayregatta.com

Results for Day Two:

Yo!2 (Peter Ahern)
Katsu (Ben Copley)
Wings (Fredrick Roswold)

Cruising A
Minx (Mick Keeley)
Phoenix (Niels H.S. Degenkowl)
Tuay Lek (David Hery)

Cruising B
Remington (Jim Ellis)
Fistral (Bill Crump)
Cunning Plan (Rob Azzopardi)

Darwin One Design
Sunsail Princess Arieta  (Michael Bates)
Sunsail Princess Sharda  (Luke Mills)
Sunsail Princess Athena ( Mike Savage)

Voodoo Child (Hans Rahmann)
Twin Sharks (Bill Phelps)
Moto Inzi (Roger Kingdon)

Summersalt (Mark Pescott)
The Sting (Dave Wales)
Pimalai Charm (Bob Garner)

12th Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009

Good wind for Day One of famous regional regatta
By Roger Foley

27.1.09: Top performer Yo!2 took line and handicap honours at the end of day one of the annual Phang Nga Bay Regatta, eight minutes ahead of Katsu, a Phuket based racer. Both yachts finished almost exactly an hour ahead of third placed Wings.

Fifty one yachts are taking part in the regatta which runs over four days and takes in the top section of Phang Nga Bay to the north east of Phuket. The area contains a large number of limestone karsts which rear 360 metres direct from the blue/green melt water coloured sea.  The area is famous around the world for its marine beauty.

The regatta, which has been running 12 years, has a history of light airs at this time of the year. However, luck was running and a 7 to 8 knot north-easterly remained with the fleet for much of the first 10 mile leg north.

A hole developed late morning which favoured the three leaders and also those who sailed a more northerly course. These yachts were able to take advantage of the new breeze that set in again after a 40 minute pause and they sailed direct to the finish line 13 miles away off Chong Lat.

The remainder of the fleet bunched in the light airs then 're-started' when the breeze set in.

Race Manager Simon James said this was the first race he could remember that had finished early in the day and not in the early evening or dark as had been the case in past years. There were no notable incidents, though a couple of the hot local multi-hulls appeared to have gone around a key buoy, but without protest from their competitors.

Yachts taking part have come from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Britain and France. A record seven teams are competing on Sunsail yachts from Darwin.

Over the following three more days of competition, the yachts will follow a course across the top of Phang Nga Bay to Krabi Province and then back to Phuket, taking in some of the most beautiful little islands in the world.

For more information on the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, visit http://www.bayregatta.com

At the end of day one, the results are:

Yo!2 (Peter Ahern)
Katsu (Ben Copley)
Wings (Frederick Roswold)

Cruising A
Minx (Mick Keeley)
Tuay Lek (David Hery)
Fidgi (Dick Sanders)

Cruising B
Thalassa (no name)
Big A (Horst Lakits)
Rascal (Gavin Wellman)

Darwin One Design
Sunsail Princess Sharda (Luke Mills)
Sunsail Princess Arieta (Michael Bates)
Sunsail Princess Athena (Mike Savage)

Sea Property (Peter Dyer)
Twin Sharks (Bill Phelps)
Voodoo Child (Hans Rahmann)

The Sting (Dave Wales)
Xcatriot (Bob Brindley)
Pimalai Charm (Bob Garner)

12th Phang Nga Bay Regatta 2009

By: Alan Parkhouse

ISLAND HOPPING: Tourists explore one of the many small islands in Phangnga Bay as the regatta fleet sails by.

The Phang Nga Bay Regatta is one of the world's most scenic sailing events, and while the racing is serious, it's also a lot of fun.

25/01/2009: The first of Thailand's six annual sailing regattas starts this week with a record fleet expected to set sail in the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, but this event is different from the other five - it was started by John Everingham, a photographer and not a sailor.

Set in Asia's most scenic surroundings, the spectacular Phangnga Bay and two other neighbouring provinces in southern Thailand, this event is also known as "the fun regatta" because although the skippers are all out to win, they're also determined to have a good time. Andy Dowden and Simon James, local sailing personalities in Phuket, set the courses the fleet sail every day for four days.

A major factor that makes this regatta different from others is that the fleet of boats moves to a different location every day, rather than sailing back to a base, which is the case in all the other sailing events held in Thailand.

‘NEVER GIVE UP’: This is the motto of the skipper of this yacht, a regular competitor.

"In the early years, the King's Cup Regatta enjoyed spectacular sailing around Phi Phi, but as the committee became more racing conscious they moved out into the ocean away from the islands and I grew frustrated. I argued on the committee that beautiful images would attract more people. But I lost. So I determined it was better to begin a regatta myself, right up among the rocky islands of Phangnga Bay. Better to create a regatta for participants looking for a fun time in spectacular surroundings. And I would get the photos I wanted," said Mr Everingham, a veteran Australian photographer and the publisher of a number of magazines in Thailand and the region.

Mr Everingham has been involved in the marine leisure industry around Phuket and southern Thailand for many years and is also a committee member of Asia's biggest regatta, the Phuket King's Cup. But his passion is the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, which he helped start 12 years ago.

EVENLY MATCHED: The fleet of Sunsail charter boats during last year’s regatta.

"Drop a regatta of colourful spinnakers in front of those amazing mountain-islands of Phangnga-Krabi and you have one of the greatest sailing spectacles in the world. The experience of sailing through this incredibly beautiful place has become so famous that this is now the second biggest regatta in Asia," he said.

This year, a record number of yachts are expected to enter the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, and despite the organisers trying to keep the numbers down to make the event easier to manage, more than 50 yachts have already entered for four days of fun, sun and sailing.

There are a number of reasons the Phang Nga Bay Regatta is different from the other five regattas held annually in Thailand.

The main difference with this regatta is that while the skippers and their crews try their best to win every one of the four races contested, the overall theme is to have fun and no protests are excepted. Protests are part and parcel of all sailing regattas around the world, but not here.

"Protests? We don't really accept them. It's not the spirit of this event, and we don't even have a jury to hear protests like every other regatta does. If people try to protest we just sit them on the beach, offer them a beer or two and work things out," Mr Everingham said.

PARTY TIME: Lanterns on Koh Phi Phi.

Parties every night at a different location add to the fun flavour of the event.

This also means that a great number of the skippers and their crews sleep on their boats, while a few opt to take rooms at some of the luxury resorts that play host to the fleet as it makes its way from one exotic location to another, covering three provinces of southern Thailand.

OFF AND RACING: The fleet heads off for another day’s racing.

However, one aspect of the Phang Nga Bay Regatta that is the same as the other sailing races held in Thailand is the fact that any type of sailing boat can enter. The fleet is divided into six classes, which can range from the super-fast Firefly 850 catamarans to the super-slow cruising class, which is mostly made up of yachts that families live on as they sail around the world, complete with washing machines and dishwashers.

Even those who don't own a yacht, but who want to experience the thrill of racing, are catered for.

Last year a big group from the Darwin Yacht Club in northern Australia arrived and hired seven identical yachts from the Sunsail company's headquarters in Phuket.

They had a ball, and a great holiday, and this year the number has grown to nine charter boats, all crewed by members of the Darwin club, who again will be sailing identical Sunsail yachts.

"We have created a special class for them called the Darwin Sunsail Class, so they can race each other," added Mr Everingham.

CAT FIGHT: A Firefly 850 catamaran, front, the fastest sailing boats in Thailand.

The major difficulty regatta organisers have faced this year has been the global financial meltdown, which has affected sponsorship. But they have battled on.

"We certainly do live in interesting financial times," said Vicki Gregory, the regatta's treasurer and event manager. "But the regatta has operated through 12 years that included tsunamis, Sars, chicken flu and some political high jinks, so a global money meltdown has also to be endured.

"The regatta has to give a big thanks to the sponsors who have supported us again this year, in these worst of times, and who have clearly recognised the great benefits of being associated with such a unique event in some of the best sailing grounds in the world."

Two years ago, this writer was the first journalist ever to cover the whole Phang Nga Bay Regatta, and came away stunned by the scenery, the fun and the exotic locations where the fleet dropped anchor for the night. We even went to Paradise.

The Paradise is an island resort on Koh Yaonoi in the picturesque Phangnga Bay, a jungle-covered Eden with sheer cliffs overlooking a small bay, with the only sign of civilisation being one up-market resort nestled in a grove of coconut trees on the shore of the bay.

The only way to get ashore was by the inflatable boats many of the yachts have on board or by local longtail boat. The open-air party started at sunset, and after everyone had dined on a wide array of Thai and Western food, the prize-giving ceremony was held, with the winners of that day's racing collecting small trophies and prizes.

By 10pm, the skippers and their crews had had their fill and started heading back to their yachts to bed down for the night, some even opting to swim the short distance to where their boats lay at anchor. I remember thinking that I had been given the best assignment a journalist could ever hope for.

This year a small number of journalists and photographers, as well as regatta organisers and race officials, will be motoring alongside the large fleet of yachts on board the Silolona, a beautiful timber boat built in Indonesia about five years ago. The Silolona is a five-star vessel with every luxury imaginable on board, plus an Indonesian crew and a traditional band from Makassar in Sulawesi, which once played at the White House.

It was also one of the first ships to bring much-needed aid to Aceh in Indonesia after the devastating tsunami struck four years ago.

This month the only aid it will be carrying will be sunblock and a few aspirins for hangovers.

For more information on the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, visit http://www.bayregatta.com  or http://www.silolona.com .

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