More than 500 sailors and friends recently took part in the 12th Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. A regatta that has grown from local roots, Phuket Raceweek is today an international event that welcomes sailors from around the world, including an increasingly large number charter yachts. Of particular note this year was a strong showing from China, while closer to home the all-Thai crew on Windstar raced well against tough competition.
The 36 boats competing this year were split over seven classes which included the new Corsair Class and two TP52s racing head-to-head in IRC Racing I class.
The two grand-prix TP52's Oi! and Kodo, enjoyed some close head-to-head racing in IRC Racing 1 while the largest class, IRC Racing 2, proved to be one of the most exciting. Jessandra II carried their winning form from Samui Regatta and won four out of the five races to claim the class title. However, the margins were close and across the eight-strong class podium places were shared daily, a sign of how close the competition proved to be.
Out-of-the-box just two weeks earlier, the Corsair Pulse 600s were competing in the new Corsair Class and together with the Multihull Racing and Firefly 850 classes a total of fifteen multihulls were competing this year – one of the largest turnouts in Phuket Raceweek’s history.
Multihull Racing was dominated by the three Phuket-built Stealth Cats from the Asia Catamarans yard who took all three places on the podium, while in Firefly 850 four wins from five races saw Twin Sharks secure the class title comfortably.
In the Cruising class were a number of local favourites, including the all-Thai crew on Windstar, the all-female crew on Sail Escapes Fargo Ladies and the largest boat in the fleet and former round-the-world racer, La Flute Enchantée. After a slow start on the opening day, it was the Thai team on Windstar who won the final three races to win the class title.
A diverse line-up in the Charter/Bareboat class saw a mixed bag of results but after four races it was the locally-based Venture, chartered by an Australian crew, who secured victory by a single point from another Australian crew on Uhuru.
“The level of competition this year was some of the best we have seen at Raceweek. It was very encouraging to see a large number of sailors from China taking part for the first time, and also the all-female crew who performed very well throughout in tricky conditions,” said Byron Jones, Managing Director of organisers Media Business Services Co. Ltd. (MBS).
The 2015 regatta will likely go down as one of the toughest yet; toughest in terms of the competition – with an impressive line-up of international and local boats and crews, the standard of competition was one of the highest yet – and toughest also in terms of sailing conditions – the tricky winds made it tough for race management to get races underway, while the racers had to navigate light and shifty winds while attempting to maximise performances.
Taking place off Phuket's southeast coast, Phuket Raceweek delivers competitive sailing in beautiful surroundings and in a tropical climate – attractive to many of the international sailors. But Phuket Raceweek is more than just the sailing.
Onshore, the regatta has earned a well-deserved reputation for putting on some of the best regatta parties around and again this year, the parties were exceptional. An opening party with a Caribbean theme sponsored by Mount Gay Rum and presided over by Dr. Punlob Singhasenee, Vice Governor of Phuket and Ms. Anoma Wongyai, Director of TAT Phuket, kicked off four nights of evening beachfront parties which concluded with a stunning firework display on the final night on which the regatta winners were celebrated.
In spite of the tricky conditions this year, sailors left Phuket Raceweek happy and vowing to return next year for the XIII Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek.
To see all the photos from this year’s Phuket Raceweek, and for more information about 2016, visit www.phuketraceweek.com.
And the winner is...
IRC Racing I Oi!, Peter Ahern/ Scott Bailey/ Fergus Wilmer (6) Kodo, Ben Copley (8)
IRC Racing II Jessandra II, Roland Dane (4) | Foo 4, David Dimmock (9) | Fujin, Mick Tilden (13)
Multihull Racing Asia Catamarans Hurricane, Alan Carwadine (4) | Java, John Coffin (9) | WOW, David Liddell (10)
Firefly 850 Twin Sharks, John Newnham (4) | Advanced Racing Mamba, Neil Ayre (10) | Voodoo, Hans Rahmann (11)
Corsair SuDu 1, Andrew DeBruin/ Zam Bevan (5) | SuDu 3, Dirk Weiblen (6) | SuDu 4, Scott Galle (11)
Cruising Windstar, Patinyakorn Buranrom (5) | Krabi Boat Lagoon Piccolo, Mike Downard (7) | ailescapes Fargo Ladies, Liz Schoch (12)
Charter/ Bareboat Venture, Ian Lodewyckx/ Keith O'Donnell (4) | Uhuru, Philip Grove (5) | Fei Yu, Con Macarlino (7)