Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek kicked off with 12-15 knots of wind on the opening day. Principal Race Officer Simon James set two races for all but the Classic class and with the wind building throughout the day the second, longer race, produced some exhilarating sailing for the 400+ sailors.
The 35 boats are split over seven classes, and include many familiar faces together with a growing number of international boats and charterers this year.
Having set the startline between Lone and Aeo islands, the racing started on time and first off were IRC Racing I on a windward/leeward.
The in-form Foxy Lady VI were up against Peter Ahern's Australian entry Oi!, the well campaigned Fujin, Blue Note and the 42-footer Island Fling from Hong Kong. A mixed bunch, and it was Foxy Lady VI who were first to put a win on the board. An error early on by Oi! hit them hard as they finished first but on corrected time had to settle for fourth. Island Fling enjoyed the good breeze and all powered up secured second place, two minutes ahead of Fujin.
In the second race, the class were sent towards the Chalong coastline, downwind to the Safe Water Mark off Panwa Cape, back towards Chalong, around Aeo Island, and back upwind before one last downwind leg to the finish. With the wind building, Fujin went one better this time to finish second in Race 2, knocking Island Fling into third. But again, it was the slick crew work on Foxy Lady VI that saw them take the win by four minutes on corrected time. Two out of two.
Last years winner, Phoenix, got off to a slow start in IRC Racing II with a sixth place finish in Race 1. They improved in the Race 2 to sit fourth overall at the end of the day, but the days glory goes to Australian boat Jessandra II, who competing at Raceweek for the first time scored two comfortable wins to lead the scoreboard.
Ruby Tuesday's 3,2 and the Mumm 30 Foreign Affair's 2,5, puts them in second and third overall respectively.
Starting together, the Cruising and Charter/Bareboat classes enjoyed some close racing on the course and on handicap, and Sail in Asia Pinocchio were the early winners with two first places today in Cruising, while a 1,2 for Little Eva in Bareboat/Charter sees them lead the standings.
A single race for the Classic class saw the fleet stretch their legs on an island course, enjoying the stunning cruising grounds in this southeast corner of Phuket. Crossing the line first, after almost two hours of sailing, was Michael Zircon's Aventure that took the win by just ten minutes on corrected time from the ever-young Seraph.
The multihulls are back in force this year with 12 split into two classes: Firefly 850 and Multihull Racing.
Good winds and relatively flat seas proved ideal racing conditions for the super fast one-design Firefly's. All podium-placers in the past, there is plenty of pedigree in the fleet, and defending champion Twin Sharks, despite capsizing a week before while preparing for the Multihull Regatta in Phuket, showed no signs of concern scoring two bullets on the day. Having nailed both starts, Advanced Racing Mamba came in a close second in both races.
In Multihull Racing, the smaller boats of Sweet Chariot and Bullet struggled in the breeze today while the Stealth cats from the Asia Catamarans yard, Java and Asia Catamarans Hurricane, lead the way. And it was two firsts for Asia Catamarans Hurricane and two seconds for Java at the end of the day with Grenville Fordham's Nina sitting in third overall.
Organised by Media Business Services, the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek consists of four days of world-class racing from 17th to 20th July off Phuket's southeast coast. Racing continues tomorrow.