PHUKET, Thailand – A busy registration day at Cape Panwa Hotel saw 38 boats and more than 450 crew and families from 20 plus countries registered for the 15th Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek yesterday and with weather warnings by the Thai Meteorological Department re-issued yesterday on the back of tropical storm ‘Son-Tinh’ heading to Thailand, the word “Typhoon” was being bandied about the skippers briefing as all were wondering “what's going to happen tomorrow?”
What a difference a day makes. Following the Mount Gay Rum-sponsored Opening Party sailors were on the beach bright and early this morning and were welcomed by blue skies, plenty of sun and a fresh 16 knots of breeze – an ideal day for racing in the tropics.
Following a brief AP onshore, the fleet were on-the-water and heading for the start line. Due to a rolling sea state the Race Officer decided to keep the smaller, sporty Firefly 850s and Pulse 600s onshore and finally got their race card underway early afternoon, and as the day wore on the breeze started to drop off.
Today's breeze favoured the bigger boats and in IRC I Ray Roberts and his crew took the first two wins of the series on their TP52, Team Hollywood. Gordon Ketelby's Farr 40 Ramrod corrected out for second in Race 1, just three seconds ahead of 2016 IRC Racing II winner, the modified Sydney 40 East Marine Emagine, skippered by Phuket-based Aussie Scott Bradley. In the second race of the day East Marine Emagine went one better placing second on corrected time with another Sydney 40 Aquari, skippered by Craig Nicholls, leap-frogging Ramrod to finish third.
Neils Degenkolw's Phoenix got off to a flying defense of their IRC II title with two wins today, ahead of the larger Prime Factor, skippered by Max Palleschi, who finished the day with two second places. Tight racing on handicap between the Farr 1104 Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies and the Platu saw the all-female team on Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies finish just ahead to claim third in Race 1, while the tables were turned in Race 2 and the Platu claimed third.
In part due to its destination regatta format, Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek has always welcomed a substantial number of female sailors. Last year, joining a core of Phuket-based ladies were a group from Balmain Sailing Club in Sydney, and having enjoyed the event so much they're back this year, joined by a second all-female team from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in Perth. Both are racing near identical Farr 1104s in IRC II, while the locally-based all-female crew on Astreaus are competing in the Cruising Class.
In today's racing it was Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies who got the better of Krabi Boat Lagoon Pinocchio with a 3,4 versus 5,5 scoreline.
Last year's Cruising Class winner, Chris Mitchell and his crew on Lady Bubbly, were fourth across the line in Race 1 correcting out in second place to make a solid start to their title defense. Arch rivals Beaux Esprits, who finished second to Lady Bubbly last year, drew first blood and put a win on the board while third place went to the ever young Linda, skippered by Rick Blomfield.
Hot off their win in the Multihull Solutions Regatta last week, Fugazi – the all-carbon trimaran formerly named 3-itch and skippered by Dan Fidock – finished the day with a 1,1 while Bob Garner's Blade Runner IX ran them close with a 2,4 scoreline. The newly-built Cosmo is only making her second regatta outing and coming from the Asia Catamarans yard, expectations are high (an Asia Catamaran-built multihull has won this class for the last four years). Some modifications to their popular Stealth design sees Cosmo the all-new zooped-up version and while owner Peter Wilcox is still getting used to the boat, he finished the day with a 3,2 sits second overall and is one to watch.
Seconds made the difference in the one-design Firefly 850 class and it was George Eddings' Blue Noze who sailed to victory in Race 1, 53 seconds ahead of Hans Rahmann's Voodoo while defending champion Twin Sharks, skippered by John Newnham finished third.
It was all change in Race 2 as Twin Sharks were fast out of the blocks and lead around the short course to finish in a time of 00:26:17. Moto Inzi finished in second and Surf Patrol were just nine seconds back in third.
In the one-design Pulse 600 class the five entries enjoyed some close racing on flat water in Chalong Bay and completed just a single race. The first win of the series went to Brian Wood's SuDu Yellow, thirteen seconds back in second was Pixalux, skippered by Mick Tilden, with Simon Oliver's SuDu Red in third.
Organised by Media Business Services, the 15th Anniversary edition of the award-winning Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Racewek races over four days finishing on Sunday 22 July, 2018 at Cape Panwa Hotel.