Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek ready to go...
Sailors always look forward to this event, as it wipes away last seasons results and kick starts the 2019-20 AsianYachting Grand Prix with a clean sheet, in a new pursuit for the elusive AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year awards. Thirty two yachts divided into six classes are challenging for the titles. A big contingent from Australia is the result of a promotional tour last year by the organisers and expect a warm welcome, as it coincides with the middle of winter in the Southern hemisphere.
The weather forecast has constantly changed in the lead up to the regatta and the recent outlook is for South Westerly, in the mid to high teens range on Thursday and Friday, then dropping back to single figures, to finish off with. This time of the year, is very unstable and hard to predict, so come rain, hail or shine, the sailors have to be ready to deal with any situation.
The strong gusts in the forecast, allows the sea swell to build up between the islands and will keep the crews busy reefing mainsails and changing head sails to suit the conditions, on high-octane race courses, around nearby islands on Phuket’s South East coast.
A new scenario is developing at Ray Roberts stable of TP52 racing yachts based in Langkawi. In line with developing high performance sailing schools in Austral/Asia, East Sail have chartered last years champion and will be fielding a multinational crew. Roberts will be racing his “new” Team Hollywood (ex Provezza) that were crowned the 2018-19 Skipper and Yacht of the Year and plan on getting their defense of the titles, off to a good start.
Several other yachts have won here before and are back to defend the class titles. Two Sydney 40's, Craig Nicholls Aquari and Scott Bradley's East Marine Emagine are spearheading the IRC Racing 1 line up but will have to match the Russians on Alexey Mashkin's Cookson 12 MegaZip and Andrew McDermott's Corby 36 Jessandra II are both capable of toppling them, if the conditions are favourable.
Niels Degenkolw's X3/4 Ton MK2 Phoenix has won three IRC Racing 11 titles in a row and are expecting to continue on their winning ways. Aussie Lyn Evans on the Farr 1104 Farrgo Express returns for another tilt at the title but everyone will have to be aware of the cagey Garry Holt/Michael Spies Seaway 25 Eastern Creek Karts, that are renown for importing low rating winners and throwing a spanner in the works.
With 10 entries, the Cruising Monohull Class is the biggest and vary dramatically in yacht designs. Previous winner Chris Mitchell's Naut 40 Lady Bubbly returns to the frey and defending champions Keith Garry's X-412 BeauX Esprit's have a score to settle. Modern day Bavaria, Hansee, Beneteau and Jeanneau yachts, will be joined by Cape Panwa Hotel's very own Kantus’ Bride skippered by Kampon Sutara and Laurie Piper's Yankee Schooner Atlanta, usually reserved for the Classic class, are ready to fight over the podium places.
Thirteen Multihull's are divided into Racing and Firefly 850 Sports one-design classes, had an excellent warm up last weekend, at the Multihull Solutions Regatta and judging by the close timings, are ready for another formidable outing.
During the off season, some boats have changed hands, new ones acquired and others having extensive make over's. Dan Fidock has traded the Moore 36 trimaran Fugazi for a 10m Bakewell-White catamaran, weighing 750kg, with a 19m mast, also named Fugazi. A syndicate headed by Mark Thornborrow, have taken over the trimaran Fugazi, renamed Bonza, with Warwick Downes on the reigns. They are both on a steep learning curve, changing gears to suite the conditions and only seconds separated them last weekend. Which allowed Andrew Hurford's Stealth 13 Phantom V with the boat builder Alan Carwardine onboard, to come through to secure the Multihull Racing title. For good measure Glywn Rowlands Stealth 12.0 Twister 2, Dirk Weiblen's KL 25 Modified No Fear, Andrew McInnes Andaman Cabriolet Davinci and Zam Bevan Sho,Vel present a variety of challenges to the speed machines and could be in with a chance in the handicap stakes.
Five highly competitive Firefly 850 Sports One-Design catamarans will be fighting it out, for the title. Although John Newnham's Twin Sharks, came from behind to claim the Multihull Solution Regatta title on the last day, from Hans Rahmann's Voodoo, they will start odds on favourite, based on past performances and aim defend the title for the 7th time. Only a few minutes separated the fleet of high speed catamarans last weekend, so it can be considered anyone's game and George Eddings Blue Nose, Ray Waldron's Surf Patrol and Marc Chapus' Moto Inzi are eager to get amongst the silverware.
The Regatta is organised by Media Business Services Co., Ltd. under the auspices of the Phuket Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand and is staged under the authority of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Sports Authority of Thailand and Sports Association of Phuket.
Photo Credit: AsianYachting / SEA Yachting
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