Dickson on fire

As Chris Meads' Full Metal Jacket claims two wins in the Racing Division at the Phuket King's Cup

Wednesday December 2nd 2009, Author: Tracey Johnstone, Location: United Kingdom
Chris Dickson again showed his brilliance on the race track, leading the small boat in the hot Racing division to convincing podium finishes in both of today’s challenging races.

Faced with gusty sailing conditions at times up to 17 knots, Dickson, a key crew member on Hong Kong entry Full Metal Jacket steered by owner Chris Meads, showed his savvy style of racing calling clever start and course tactics to ensure Full Metal Jacket was up there with the 50s both on time and handicap.

While Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi continued their domination of the division taking out 1-2 in today’s two windward/leeward races, the Corby 43-foot Full Metal Jacket finished with a first and then a second today.

Carrying a highly experienced crew including America’s Cup sailors Jeremy Lopez and Andrew Maclean from Emirates Team New Zealand, Full Metal Jacket was in among the big boats in both races showing awesome boat speed in the light, shifty conditions. Small changes to the boat since it last competed here two years ago including lightening it up, putting on a spinnaker pole and clever tactical decisions have made all the difference to the boat’s performance.

From the start of racing Dickson, even though the claims he has been in retirement for over two years, has lost none of his race smarts guiding the Full Metal Jacket team through a complex fleet of fast and bigger yachts.

"Our objective is in the first minutes of the race is don’t get hurt, we are the little guy in the playground," he said. "So we have tended to avoid the big boats and look for clear air."

The team have also calculated the value of adding the spinnaker and the advantage of playing the shifts as opposed to what they would lose still carrying an asymmetrical kite. "We are giving away 30 seconds an hour on rating to have a spinnaker pole. But with the conditions here at the King’s Cup, it is quite puffy. When we get a puff we can bring the spinnaker back, we can run down the middle of the course. We might be a little bit slower than the big boats, but we can stay in the puff and tactically we have a few more options."

Today the tactics worked, the breeze suited the symmetrical spinnaker and Full Metal Jacket finished first. "We only got a second yesterday with me steering and a first today with Meadsie steering," Dickson said.

Ray Roberts’s Evolution Racing placed third in both races. "It was good breeze today between 10 to 12 knots," said Roberts. "Really close racing in race one between Evolution Racing, Hi-Fi and Full Metal Jacket, particularly boat on boat between us and Hi-Fi. We beat him across the line, but he got us on handicap."

In race two Evolution Racing and Hi-Fi were gybe for gybe in the first run with Hi-Fi holding the other boat out on the leg. On the next beat and the next run Evolution Racing finally got ahead of Hi-Fi. "We have the boat speed on them in certain conditions, but we probably need more than 10 knots. These were ideal conditions for him.

"We have to sail really well to get ahead of him, particularly on time. In race two it was the same boats right up there. Hi-Fi and Evolution Racing led the TP52s fleet for most of the race, however I think Full Metal Jacket got us on time," Roberts said after returning to shore this afternoon.

Frank Pong’s Jellik II, after again taking two convincing line honours wins, finished with a fifth and a fourth today. The provisional overall standings in the division after dropping their worst race score are Hi-Fi still in first place on 7 points. Full Metal Jacket has moved up into second place on 12 points and Jelik II equal third with EFG Bank Mandrake on 17 points.

IRC1 saw Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban take two more first places, a clean sweep of the six races completed so far. Second and third in race one today was Yasuo Nanmori’s Switchblade and Peter Wintle’s Koull Baby respectively. Second and third in race two was Koull Baby and Robert Van Paridon’s Tantrum respectively. This now leaves Ichi Ban unchallenged in first place with five points. After one drop, Koull Baby has moved up to second place on 14 points with Ben Copley’s Katsu moving back down into third on 16 points.

So the battle going forward for second place in this division will be between Katsu and Koull Baby. "Race two today was terrible. We just picked the wrong wind shifts, went to the wrong side of the course," a disappointed Copely said this afternoon.

Premier division saw Anthony Hasting’s Baby Tonga- Hideaways Club out-handicapped by Robert Tanner’s Shatoosh in the first race of the day and then by Russian entry, Ermakov Ilya’s Ocean Agassy, in the second race. The fleet found the light winds challenging with any tactical or crew handling errors making all the difference in these conditions. After today’s racing and with one drop, the overall placings has the top three closely placed with Baby Tonga- Hideaways Club on four points followed by Shatoosh now moving up to second place on six points and then Jon Wardill’s Australian Maid in third on eight points.

IRC2 division leader Team Bentley completed today’s two races with a second and fifth. Owner Peter Dyer at the start of the event wished for a podium finish in this division and in the Firefly 850s with his other boat, skippered for Damian Ford. Certainly he is still in with a chance in IRC2. His main rival is the quietly achieving Royal Thai Navy 1 skippered by CPO3 Wiwat Poonpat who took out first place in both of today’s races.

The Platu 25 Puma had a mixed day with a seventh and then a third. Stuart Williamson’s Skandia Endeavour of Whitby finished third and fourth. So it really was a game of snakes and ladders for the top boats in this fleet. After one drop Team Bentley still holds the overall lead on 10 points just ahead of Royal Thai Navy on 12. Skandia Endeavour of Whitby and Puma are then in third and fourth respectively. But with two more races to go and more wind forecast, the top positions can still change.

The Bareboat Charter fleet may be being sailed in mainly older boats, but there was nothing gentle about the racing out there today. Aggressive starts and good kite hoists were the highlights today. It was good to see some new faces in the top placings. Terry McLaughlin’s Princess Sharda won both races while Keisuke Nagamatsu’s Fidji was second, also in both races. Third in race one was Princess Anna and in race two it was John Ford’s Little Eva.

What a disappointment for pointscore leader Mike Crisp and his team on the 40ft Venture. He finished fourth in the first race of the day and then motored home, not checking to see if there was a second race start.

The results from today make it tight at the top for the first five boats with a matter of only one or two points separating them. Princess Sharda has moved her up, after one drop, into first place overall on five points. Venture, moves back into second on six points after dropping a DNS. In third on equal eight points is Fidgi and Princess Anna.

The elegant stars of the past in the Modern Classic division showed their competitive spirit as they faced another day of soft, shifty breezes. Peter Wood’s Windstar dominated the day with two wins which takes him into first place overall. Nick Band’s Emerald Blue also repeated his performances from the first two days of racing with another two seconds to give him second overall. Reinhard Haiber’s Pytheas Aura was third in both races which moves him into third overall.

Cruising into first place overall was Bob Ashman’s Simba, but only one point stands between the team and Rod Heikell’s Skylax. In third overall is Simon Piff’s Rainbow Dream on nine points. While the Cruising division boats may well have been wishing for stronger breeze experienced by the racing divisions, they did an admirable job getting around the challenging race course will all boats finishing. This division has three more races scheduled so anything could happen between the top three boats.

There were upsets in the Firefly 850 division today with the top boats trading places on the line as they raced two windward/leeward courses. Brent Gribble’s Twin Sharks finished second and then third, Hans Rahman’s Voodoo finished second and then fifth, Damian Ford’s Sea Property finished third and then first, and Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi made a charge on the top boats with a fourth and then a second placings in the two races today. Overall and with one drop, leaves Twin Sharks in first place on seven points. In second is Voodoo on 10 and Sea Property just two point behind on 12 points.
Henry Kaye/Fergus Wilmer’s Thor did it again convincingly winning both races in the Multihull Racing division. In second place after one drop is Radab Kanjanavanit’s Seamico Cedar Swan. "Today was okay. I think we did pretty well in the first race this morning. But, we made a mistake in the first race with our spinnaker which got tangled and a wind shift not in our favour. The wind died down also. So the wind picked up a bit on the second race and then died down. I think Tor is going to win the King’s Cup. But the funny thing in sailing is you never know what is going to happen in the next race. Even though I stand in second place I have to fight as there are a lot of boats that can take my place," said Kanjanavanit.

In third place overall is David Liddell’s Miss Saigon just one point behind defending champion Seamico Cedar Swan.

The Multihull Cruising division was won by Timothy Robbins’s Nipper who now leads the division overall.

With one race in the Classic division today, Rene Tiemessen’s Alondra took out the honours for the second day running which places him in first place overall with Christopher Edwards’s Schwalbe in second and Simon Morris’s Sirius in third.

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