Phuket King’s Cup Regatta underway
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta 2012, started today with a record-sized fleet of 168 entrants, glorious sunshine and northeasterly winds off Kata Beach.
A delayed start was due to heavy swells hampering long-tail boat access to the yachts from the beach and served to only heighten the tension prior to commencement of Race Day One, hosted by Boathouse on Kata Beach and Mont Clair Wine.
In IRC Zero class, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee President Kevin Whitcraft and his crew enjoyed victory in the first race, a fitting start to 2012’s race where his boat, the Thai-registered Wan Marang, held off Mohamad Razali Mansor’s Royal Malaysian Navy entry Utarid.
Jaray Tipsuk, Thai skipper of Whitcraft's Wan Marang, said: “Today’s conditions were great for us as the team has been practising in wind speeds of 8 to 15 knots, so the weather has been was ideal. First race, we came first, but in the second race we had trouble with the spinnaker in the last leg which cost us. We hope the wind keeps as it is tomorrow as we will do well in a long distance race, putting us in a contending position.”
In race two, Mansor’s team came back strongly, besting Whitcraft’s vessel which finished fourth. Frank Pong’s Jelik from Hong Kong, the largest boats in the fleet at 76ft, claimed victory in race three, making for an 'anybody’s guess' IRC Zero this year.
In IRC1, Australian David Fuller brought Ichi Ban and his team home in first place ahead of the Singapore-registered Foxy Lady 6 skippered by Bill Bremner. The second race saw places switched and in race three the win went to EFG Mandrake, shaking up the class and leaving it wide open for the week ahead.
Pre-race favourite in IRC2, Royal Thai Navy 1, took a back seat today to Matt Allen’s 'new' Adams 10 Ichi Ban (another Ichi Ban) who took the first two races with Peter Dyer’s Team Kata Rocks claiming the third race win.
Matt Allen, skipper of Ichi Ban, said: “We’re so happy to be out there, and only just managed to get the boat ready at 8am this morning. Weeks ago, it was sitting in a bay in Sydney! It is a great thrill to be here, and an even greater thrill to be leading the Regatta from day one.”
Firefly 850 Sports, a class of high-speed sports catamarans, played host to a great contest between Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo, Advanced Racing Team and Dyer Straits. Voodoo performed strongly last year and has already put an early stake into this year’s title, finishing the course in just 45 minutes for race one. In the second race, Peter Dyer’s Dyer Straits team was in anything but, improving from fourth in the first race to claim victory in the second while, Voodoo was runner-up. The third race went to Advanced Racing Team, setting up an epic week-long battle to come.
The open Multihull class saw a relaxed and confident Andrew Stranksy bring his Fantasia to victory in the first race, with a crew that included his 13-year-old daughter. In races two and three, they finished second behind Mojo, skippered by Peter Wilcox in his Thai-registered boat.
This year sees the return of the Platu One Design class with four entries, three of which are Japanese. The Junichi Ishikawa-skippered The Beaver won race one and two, ahead of Toshio Furuta in Sakura. Scott Duncanson, skippering Tuay Lek, took victory in the third race.
The Premier class, made distinctive by some beautiful entries for 2012, was taken by the Pine-Pacific team, ahead of last year’s unbeaten Titania of Cowes from the UK, skippered by the highly experienced Richard Dobbs. Dobbs’ team came back hard in the second race to regain their previous form.
The Modern Classic class hosted a cat-and-mouse game between Peter Wood’s Windstar and nearest rival, Nick Band and his Emerald Blue. Windstar built on a powerful outing last year to win today's two races.
Bareboat Charter class fielded the biggest fleet this year, with a total of 23 entries. Kirill Sakhattzev’s Sail Plane team, placed first in race one ahead of Sarawadee, skippered by Nikiforov Evgenii, but finished second to the Australian-entry Agility International (Venture) in race two.
Kirill Stashevskiy of the Gokova team placed first in race one of the Cruising class but slipped to fourth in race two with Linda, skippered by Jack Cristensen securing the win.
Windsurfing has made a comeback in 2012, and today hosted some exciting wave-skipping action. Hong Kong Olympian Chun Leung Michael Cheng claimed a first and third to sit atop the standing at the end of the day, with Alabau Neira, the ladies 2012 Olympic gold medallist from Spain, placing 2, 4.
Good weather and steady winds were the hallmarks of the first day of the Regatta. With winds expected to pick-up during the week, the 26th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is well positioned to produce some of the best and most competitive racing in Asia.