It all came down to the final day of the 2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. After the unprecedented abandonment of racing for all classes yesterday, the pressure was on to get a final race (or more) completed, introduce the drop in some classes, and give everyone a fighting final day chance.
The forecast wasn't looking great and after approximately an hour searching for some breeze, Principal Race Officer Simon James set a startline between Lone and Hei islands and got the fleet underway. An islands course around Hei and Aeo for the Multihull Racing, Cruising, Charter/Bareboat and Classic classes was the order of the day, with a short windward/leeward for the rest.
Coming into the start on port tack, Foxy Lady VI headed off towards Aeo Island while the rest of the fleet took the other side of the course. Early up the leg Blue Note and Fujin tacked to follow Foxy Lady VI while Oi! and Island Fling stuck to their guns. As they rounded the top mark, Oi! and Island Fling had got the better of the first upwind leg while Foxy Lady VI had slipped back and looked to have chosen the wrong side of the course.
Two laps of the windward/leeward and Oi! took their fifth line honours of the series but couldn't convert it to a handicap win, having to settle for third in the race and third overall, while Island Fling sailed exceptionally well to win by two minutes on corrected time from a rapidly improving Blue Note.
Having won four from four going into the final day, and although placing fourth in the final race, Foxy Lady VI won IRC Racing I comfortably and at their first attempt. Lead by Bill Bremner, they're the boat in Asia to beat right now with eight consecutive wins on the Asian circuit.
A startline incident added some spice to the proceedings in IRC Racing II today. With lots of non-racing boats on the water and hanging around the startboat, Jessandra II, helmed by Scott Duncanson, had to round one and came into the start at a tight angle and with no rights or options left had to squeeze in between Surf Patrol and the start boat. A three way collision followed, and with no serious damage, both Surf Patrol and Jessandra II took a penalty turn and continued their racing. No protest was lodged and everything was left on the water.
As it turned out, Ray Waldron's Surf Patrol had their best race of the series and took line honours, converting to second place on corrected time less than one minute behind Jessandra II, of all boats, who's final day win made it five from five and a class win at their first time of trying.
Throughout the week there has been talk of possible protests in the Cruising class though nothing materialised, and to add further mystery to the murmurings an RAF was recorded for Sail in Asia Pinocchio post-happening, and an IRC rating error was corrected. End result? Sail in Asia Pinocchio came into the final day in second place, not first, and needed a win in the final race and for nearest rival Hedonist to place down the class.
Finishing seven minutes ahead was not enough for Hedonist to win the race and they had to settle for second place by less than two minutes on corrected time, behind race-winner Sail in Asia Pinocchio. However, a second place was enough for Hedonist to secure the class win.
It was a long day on the course for the Charter/Bareboat entries today and after a slow start to the series by Venture, they put in a string of wins to lead the class coming into the final day. There was still plenty to play for, however, and the tricky conditions saw Anchalai (Ratana) come into their own and score their first bullet of the series, and with it throw the class wide open. A third place for Little Eva kept them in the running but when the handicaps were calculated, Venture had placed fourth place today and with that, Little Eva won the class title by a single point.
Skippered by Mark Horwood, Adrenalin sailed the conditions well and scored their first line honours of the series, but on corrected time had to settle for sixth in the race. Despite being fifth across the line, Bullet had saved their best performance to last, winning the final race of the series with Java in second and Asia Catamarans Hurricane in third. A third was enough for Alan Carwardine and his crew on Hurricane to win the series by two points and claim their first Raceweek win.
Only three boats made it to the startline for the final day of racing in the Firefly class. Twin Sharks had a good lead coming into the day but Advanced Racing Mamba were close on their heels and looking to put in a good finish. However, after having a poor series by Voodoo's own high standards, they came good in the final race to win convincingly by nearly four minutes. Twin Sharks finished second and with it defend their title and are only the second Firefly to 'two-peat' at Phuket Raceweek.
Three Classics made it a day to remember, and a sight to behold, on the final day as they lined up in-sync for the start. After over three hours, the final classic yacht crossed the line and the handicaps were calculated, and it was the gracefully aging schooner Seraph, skippered by Captain Bao, that won the race and with that, the class title.
Series results (top three in each class)
IRC Racing I
Foxy Lady VI, Bill Bremner (4)
Island Fling, Paul F. Winklemann (8)
Oi!, Peter Ahern/ Scott Bailey/ Fergus Wilmer (12)
IRC Racing II
Jessandra II, Roland Dane (4)
Foreign Affair, Greg Reynolds (11)
Ruby Tuesday, John Vause (13)
Hedonist, Richard Barnhurst (7)
Sail in Asia Pinocchio, Mike Downard (9)
Sansiri Windstar, Patinyakorn Buranrom (11)
Little Eva, Jonathan King (5)
Venture, Ian Lodewyckx (6)
Anchalai (Ratana), Simon Oliver (7)
Asia Catamarans Hurricane, Alan Carwardine (5)
Java, John Coffin (7)
Bullet, Zam Bevan (12)
Twin Sharks, John Newnham (5)
Advanced Racing Mamba, Richard Ayre (8)
Voodoo, Hans Rahmann (9)
Seraph, Captain Bao (5)
Aventure, Michael Zircon (6)
Sirius, Simon Morris (8)
Full results are available at www.phuketraceweek.com/results.