Race Report 4 & Summary
hell breaks loose on the final day...
July 25th: At the sumptuous Six Senses Evason breakfast overlooking the racing area, the warning signs for a tough day ahead were already in full view. White caps and lumpy seas, stirred up by 20 to 25 knot South West Monsoon winds. Upon arrival at Race Control at Into the Beach, Nitt kindly pointed out at that Stuart Williamson's Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour of Whitby had drifted off, some time during the night and was firmly planted on the rocks at Koh Bon. A Thai fishing boat had been engaged to skull drag her from the beach and tow her into Ao Chalong for repairs. As the assembled media were due to board the boats an enormous storm descended on Phuket bringing with it 30 to 35 knot gusts and lashing rain. After half an hour delay, those that were brave enough to tackle the bronco bucking jetty and risk ruining their valuable camera equipment, clambered aboard and headed out to the racing area to see what was going on out there. Capt Brent McInnes our boat owner and driver afforded us a brief photo shoot of the Skandia Endeavour of Whitby grounding and then expertly guided his magnificent Donzi speedboat around the starting area, all the time desperately trying to keep the photographic equipment dry. Just after PRO Simon James started the IRC Racing and IRC 2 classes the threatening black clouds that were building out to sea, descended over the race course and all hell broke loose in torrential rain and zero visibility.
The boats that could, had already taken deep reefs in their mainsails and were carrying small head sails but the boats that couldn't were completely overpowered and out of control on the race course. As the weather shut down proceedings, the skippers and crew milling around waiting for their start, wisely went into survival mode. Ray Waldron's brand new Phuket 8 Surf Patrol was the first casualty when the boat almost capsized in over 30 knots and in doing so, lost two crew members over the side. Almost straight after Nigel Cross on the Daniel Moore 11.2 catamaran Little Soul radioed in to tell the race office that they were dismasted near the start line. No one was injured and they were attempting to sort out the mess of rigging and sails dragging in the water on their port side, before motoring to Ao Chalong. The media boats were asked to find these floundering boats, render any assistance and standby. Grenville Fordham's Andaman Cabriolet Niña safely picked up the two Surf Patrol crew members, as the remaining crew lowered the mainsail and got the boat back under control. At the height of the storm and for safety reasons many skippers decided not to take any further part in racing and preserve the boat and their equipment for another day.
As the weather abated and clearer skies returned, PRO Simon James resumed the starting sequence for the remaining boats on Course 16, that would take them into and around the much calmer Ao Chalong Bay. The Racing and IRC 2 classes were beginning to exit Ao Chalong and head for the finish line, when the recently started classes were just entering the bay. Only time for a quick wave as the boats passed. Antony Hastings radioed the committee to let them know that due to some boom damage he was also retiring his Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga from the race. Just when everything seemed to be under control, another black cloud rolled over the southern tip of the island and unleashed another round of fury on the normally sedate waters. Having experienced the earlier storm most boats were ready and took notice of the early warning gusts to douse the spinnakers and get ready for another big blow. Apart from the lashing rain, finding your way in zero visibility and identifying other boats or landmarks in your vicinity, is a good reminder of the dangers that this sport can pose.
In the IRC Racing class, Scott Duncanson managed to keep his Phuket 8 Quantum Fusion M upright and sailed conservatively to take Race 7 handicap honours. Ben Copley's Swan CS 42 Katsu took line honours and second place, to finally ditch the bridesmaid role and take home the overall Racing Class trophy. Robert van Paridon's Beneteau 44.7 Tantrum clung on for third place today, but Antony Hastings Beneteau First 53 F5 Baby Tonga did enough in the earlier races to take third spot on the podium. Surprisingly enough the race committee were set up and almost ready to hold Race 8 when the second storm struck and had to abandon proceedings.
Toshio Furuta's mainly Japanese team on the chartered Mumm 36 Emma have scored four line honours out of seven races but after handicaps are applied have finished right down the bottom of the order in the IRC 2 fleet. Today was their lucky day as Emma scored the daily double in Race 7. Second place for Bryan Gauson's refitted 1976 Sydney Hobart Race winning Farr 1104 Piccolo has lived up to its reputation and galloped away with the IRC 2 title on their first outing. It's amazing what a lot of tender loving care and a few talented crew from North Sails, Perth can do for a top performance. Although Peter Dyer's IOR 1/4 tonner Sea Bees incurred some sail damage on the way to the start line and did not compete today, they managed to hold onto second place on the podium. Defending champion Jaray Tipsuk on Platu 25 Royal Thai Navy 5 ripped their jib when they went to the aid of the Surf Patrol crew and were awarded points for Race 7 to lock in the third podium place.
Jack Cristensen's Bavaria 49 Linda has been lagging at the back of the IRC 3 class all regatta but today survived the savage conditions to pull off first and fastest to end the regatta in fine style. Second place for the Russians on Alex Takhovski's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Lero sees them through to claim the overall title. Fourth place for Keith Garry's Malaysian based X-412 BeauX Esprits holds them in second overall and the retirement of John Caffin's Jeanneau J53 Don't Think Twice makes way for Horst Lakits' Swan 55 Big A to jump up onto the third step of the podium.
Four boats chose not to compete and one retirement today paved the way for Andy Pape skippering the new Andaman Cabriolet Da Vinci to dismiss the bridesmaid role and win Race 7 in adverse conditions. After rendering assistance to the Surf Patrol crew, Grenville Fordham's original Andaman Cabriolet Nina went on to take second place. Despite third place ruining a clean sheet of six wins in a row, Henry Kaye's Seacart 30 Thor has convincingly won the Multihull class title and was even seen flying the center hull today. Da Vinci holds onto second overall and despite not competing David Liddell's Corsair 37 Miss Saigon lays claim to third overall.
Damien Page in charge of SEA Property triumphed on Race 7, in front of Roger Kingdon's ever elusive Moto Inzi and overall leader Hans Rahmann's Voodoo. This result did not change the podium places as Hans Rahmann's Voodoo scored four wins and never finished out of the top three places to secure the Firefly 850 Sport one-design trophy for the second year running. Roger Kingdon has pushed Moto Inzi hard all regatta and deservedly takes second place on the podium. Today's win secures SEA Property skippered by Damien Page third overall in front of a marauding, hungry chasing pack.
In the two boat Classic Class, Gunther Nutt's Friendship Sloop Kerida and Tom Howard's 100 year old North Sea Fishing Boat Seraph had a close battle in the difficult conditions until some damage forced Seraph to retire. Which handed the race win and overall title to Gunther Nutt's Kerida, who also was awarded the Seraph Trophy for displaying some outstanding sportsmanship on the classic class boats.
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