Phuket prang

On final day of King's Cup regatta + full results

Friday December 6th 2002, Author: Kings Cup, Location: Australasia
It had not been a night for sleeping on deck. Chilled sailors awoke to find that early hour downpours had left in their wake a glowering sky and gun-metal grey sea.

Calling to action muscles aching from the rigors of a good regatta, the competitors set to work preparing their craft for one last thrust, as the still calm of dawn gave way to the first whispers of what was to be yet another good day of wind.

Perhaps it was the excitement of completing a King's Cup in which almost the every boat had managed to record a finish in every race, or just the anticipation of an end in sight, because, for whatever reason, several of the boats from Racing, Premier Cruising and IRC 1 made a pre-emptive thrust for the line. The tension broken, judges decided it was in the best interests of all the racers that a re-start be called, and the cowed racers were called back to the line.

The winds were indeed in the racer's favour, but a clean end to the regatta was not on the cards for all. Upon clearing the mark, the new Thailand-based Farr 40, Pasaya was struck by IRC 1 contender, Mustang Sally, the stress caused by the crash severed the yacht's steering cable as Pasaya rounded the next mark, forcing the crew to abandon racing for the day and return to Kata Beach Resort.

Meanwhile, a spirited battle saw Racing class fighting all the way to the line, with last year's champ, Neil Pryde, finally finding his form and first place, but too late to get anything better than a third in the series. Much-touted Mandrake played a cat and mouse game with Yo! throughout the race, hoping to keep her at bay and - although beating her - could not stop the grey and yellow flyer from taking the series by four points.

While Schle Wood Thanan's majority Thai team were home for a very early lunch, they were not the only ones to be denied a finish. After fighting his way almost to the line, the fates were to take another swipe at the Phuket-based Aussie sailing instructor, Rob Williams, when his former Sydney-Hobart racer, Di Hard, suffered critical steering failure. Dogged by misfortune since the opening of the KC, the Di Hard crew faced the last ignominy of being towed back to their anchorage.

However, while there were several downcast faces hovering around the Kata Beach committee room, there were jubilant shouts from the crew of Octopussy as they calculated their cumulative score. It had been a close call, but Viroj Nualkhair's team pipped Horst Lakits and Big A. Despite both boats scoring the same points, Octopussy's clear win in the last race of the regatta gave them the IRC 1 series.

Two other classes were faced with similar ties, and it took all the rules in statistician Howard Elliot's book to break the tie in Premier Cruising, finally giving the class series to David Bailey's Hocux Pocux on the basis of its last day second placing.

Bailey's win came despite his attempts to find serious fault with the new system of race management. A complaint by Bailey over the result of Race 4 claimed Hocux Pocux had lost out on a win - with Bailey insisting that the committee's shortening of the course was against the rules. However, as Thai Olympic team coach, and Pasaya tactician, Mark Robinson pointed out. "Everything was in the sailing instructions and the notice of race. How could they be breaking the rules, when they were the ones that wrote them in the first place.

Further confirmation came from Howard Elliot, who crunched all the numbers of all possible variations on the Bailey theme, only to conclude: "It didn't matter which way we added it up, Hocux Pocux would still have lost that race." Fortunately for Mr. Bailey, he did not take up an interesting offer Howard Elliot made him just a day before the class series went to Hocux Pocux, or there may have been a quite different outcome.

See page two for full results from the King's Cup

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