Serious racers got in some high-octane racing and the less serious racers funfilled courses around the scenic nearby islands.
The biggest upset victor at this year's Phuket Raceweek was the new venue. How does one replace the Evason Six Senses, the home of the regatta since its inception? That was the question on everyone's mind heading into the ninth running of this event. But Grenville Fordham, organizer and rights holder of the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, had the answer: the Cape Panwa Hotel. Many didn't know of this hotel, indeed many didn't even know of Cape Panwa. That's all changed now with rave reviews coming in from competitors, spectators and sponsors alike.
As MarineScene.Asia's Duncan Worthington reported "The 2012 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek got off to a lively start with presenting sponsor Mount Gay Rum hosting the opening party and entertaining the crowds with Polynesian-themed dancers. Supported by unlimited Mount Gay Rum – 'the sailors' rum' – the Regatta became the platform to launch the new Mount Gay Rum Extra Old in Thailand. Well-received by over 500 guests the party was a tribute to all that's good and popular about sailing."
The new venue hosted the entire event from its luxurious premises overlooking the Andaman Sea. The gala first night party was sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, followed by four intense days of yacht racing on Phuket's southeast coast.
The 13-strong IRC Racing fleet was split into three divisions: IRC Racing I, Sportsboats and IRC Racing II. All three divisions were on the startline together under the watchful eyes of Principal Race Officer Simon James. In IRC Racing II, seven closelymatched boats, and a number of regional regatta winners, with crews from all corners of the world were pitted against each other.
All eyes were on Ben Copley's brand new Aquila Reichel Pugh 45, Katsu (built in China) to see how it tacked up against Rick Pointon's J130 Jingjing from the Beijing Sailing Club and local favourite Kevin Whitcraft's GP42 Won Ma Rang. The latter two have been on form at recent regattas and the results will be a good guide on how the Katsu crew are faring.
The Sportsboats staged a comeback with three of the latest high-tech, planning boats sailing together in their own class. Ray
Waldron's Phuket 8 Surf Patrol was in tough against Rolf Heemskerk on the chartered Soto 30 Longitude and Paul Murphy's Welbourn 25 Brace! Brace! Brace! with its transferable horizontal foil that improves stability (the Dynamic Stability System).
John Vause's Young 11 Ruby Tuesday, who won the event back in 2005, hoped to repeat history at the new venue. But the other boats in the IRC 2 class were much bigger and potentially faster. Peter Jones Bashford & Howison 41 Moya Hin, Mike Crisp's Hanse 400 Venture and Keith Garry's X-412BeauX Esprits would have to perform at their level best to out sail Joe & Rob Bottomley's Beneteau First 47.7 Sailplane.
For the first time a youth team, 91.5 FM-Sunsail Youth Racing, with Thai youngsters aged between 10-15, from the Sunshine Home in Phuket, competed on a "big boat" in an international regatta. They were joined by six other yachts in the IRC Cruising Class and faced stiff opposition in the form of Rob Azzopardi's
Beneteau Oceanis 423 Dreamtime, Andy Dowden's Hanse 400 Asia Marine Kinnon, and Andy Brennan's Delphia 40 Jenzminc VI. Jim Ellis S&S 12.8 Remington was back to defend its title but would have to outwit the likes of Stuart Williamson's Beneteau 34.7 Skandia EOW before he can repeat.
The Performance Multihull and Firefly One Design classes were fully