|Top Asian racers battle it out during Samui Regatta|
The Samui Regatta has developed a strong following of the region's best sailors, and over the years has delivered on a reputation for quality sailing in some of the best racing conditions in the Gulf of Thailand.
Koh Samui, welcomed over 500 sailors to the 12th annual Samui Regatta which kicked off at the Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui with five days of racing, and culminated in a lavish beachfront gala dinner at which the regatta winners celebrated together with the 2012/13 Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship (AYGP) winners of Best Yacht of the Year and Best Skipper of the Year.
The line-up of boats for the 2013 Samui Regatta, which took place May 27th to June 1st off Chaweng Beach, was strong with a mix of top international racers and regional regatta veterans set to compete. Organized by Regattas Asia, a leading regatta and marine-based sporting event management company in Asia, Samui Regatta is celebrated its 12th year.
This year 22 boats raced in five classes. Familiar faces on the Asian regatta scene Frank Pong (HKG) and Geoff Hill (HKG) led the charge with the two largest boats in the fleet – Jelik (75ft) and Antipodes (72ft), respectively. Battling it out with them in IRC Zero was Sam Chan's TP52 Freefire (HKG), a team from the Royal Malaysian Navy sailing their DK47 Miri Marina Uranus and the Aquila Reichel Pugh 45 Katsu (AUS) skippered by owner Ben Copley.
In the ever-growing 40-foot fleet, the top contenders converged at the Samui Regatta to battle it out for glory in this the final event of the prestigious 2012/13 Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship. Competing in IRC One, EFG Bank Mandrake (HKG), skippered by Nick Burns, was back to defend their title on the well-campaigned Mills 40. After losing the title on the last day of last year's regatta, Bill Bremner and crew on Foxy Lady VI (SIN/CAN), a Summit 40 King 2.51, were back to make amends and lined up against Walawala 2 (SIN), a Sydney GTS 453, WindSikher (SIN), a Sydeny 40 MOD, Rikki Tikki Tavi (SIN), an Elan 410, and Elektra (HKG), another Sydney GTS 453.
"It's great to see such a competitive fleet of boats lining up for the Samui Regatta. Indeed, across all the classes there are some very evenly matched boats and crews and I'm sure all will enjoy the five days of racing we have planned for them," said Race Director Simon James. "We're also very proud to be the final event on the AYGP Championship. Samui Regatta has developed a reputation for providing a mix of racing conditions and courses each year – something for everyone – which makes it tactical and challenging."
Rolex Sydney Hobart veteran Matt Allen and his Adams 10 Ichiban (AUS), with victories at the Phuket King's Cup and Top of the Gulf regattas in the last 12 months, looked to be the boat to beat in IRC Two and were up against Gary Baguley's El Coyote (AUS), a Holman & Pye 52, and Bryan Colaniz and crew on the Sayer 13, Sonic.
A battle of the SunOdysseys was set for the Bareboat/Cruising class with the SunOdyssey 43 DS Paprika II (THA) up against two SunOdyssey 409 2.10 – The Waugh Ship (Ti-Punch) (AUS), skippered by Barry Waugh. With last year's winner of the Multihull class Fantasia unable to defend their title this year, a new winner is set to be crowned from a line-up of some of the region's best multihull sailors, including Sansiri (THA), on a Hood 23, who placed second in its class at the recent Top of the Gulf Regatta and is sailed by an all-Thai crew, who could prove to be the surprise package in the Bareboat/ Cruising class. Nick Smith's Ericson 38 Freewind and Mick Grover's Elliot 7 Moon Shadow rounded out the class.
If the winds are blowing, one to watch out for in the Multihulls is Henry Kaye's Seacart 26 Sweet Chariot (THA), which favours the strong winds Samui Regatta is famed for. Also competing is this division was David Liddell's Miss Saigon, a Corsair 38, and Crazy Horse, a local Schionning Radical Bay, skippered by Kunta.
"Samui Regatta has become well known for its top quality racing and professional on-water race management, and again this year the ISAF International Race Officer Ross Chisholm will be calling the shots on-the-water," commented James.
The Regatta is equally well known for its onshore social scene and the beachfront Regatta Tavern, which becomes the focal point early evening as the sailors come ashore. The five days of racing is combined with six nights of parties, including the offsite Beach Republic Party – a midweek highlight – and the closing Gala Dinner and presentations hosted by Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui under the stars – a fitting finale to the regatta.
About Regattas Asia
Regattas Asia is the brand name of Phuket and More Co. Ltd., established in 2001 with over 15 years involvement in the organization of leading marine events in Asia. Formed by Simon James and Kae Wattana, Regattas Asia has become a prominent player in Asia's regattas industry, with an innovative approach to the management of major sailing events in the region. Regattas Asia provides services to the following events: the Phuket King's Cup Regatta, the Bay Regatta, Phuket Raceweek, the Sabang International Regatta (Indonesia), the Royal Langkawi International Regatta (Malaysia), the Hainan Around the Island Regatta (China), the China Cup International Regatta, and are sole organizers of the Samui Regatta. www.Regattas.asia
Commonly referred to as the "Tropical Island Regatta" – a fitting name for one of the region's leading boutique regattas, which combines idyllic tropical charm, Thai hospitality and an island lifestyle, with great racing off the beach for both locallybased and international boats and sailors – Samui Regatta continues to deliver the goods and this year will host an interyacht Stand-Up Paddelboard Challenge concluding on Friday 31st May.Captain Marty's Conclusion
Although the winner in most classes was already determined, all the boats were back out on the water on the final day, for one final thrust to improve their placings and bring the curtain down on this year's event in grand style. The sun was back and the scenic colours restored after the fourth day's shades of gray.
Once again PRO Ross Chisholm favoured the northeast coast of Samui and found an 8 to 10 knot Westerly breeze to conduct the final showdown. All eyes were focused on the IRC One class, where Steve Manning's GTS 43 Walawala 2 were tied on points with Bill Bremner's Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6 and both had all to play for in the final two races. Five-time winning tactician, Steve McConaghy replaced Bill Bremner on the helm of Foxy Lady 6 and the pressure was on the crew to win the class in Bremner's absence.
Once again Frank Pong's Reichel/Pugh 75 Jelik, blitzed the course to claim the daily double on the final race and in doing so, wrapped up the Samui IRC Zero title in fine style and became the 2012-13 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year. Obviously, very pleased with the boats performance after the latest round of Kevin Dibley keel modifications and no doubt during this event, has found some more refinements to become a force to be reckoned with, going forward into the future.
Sam Chan's Freefire slotted into second place and staged a battle royal with Geoff Hill's Antipodes throughout the week that provided photographers with quality magazine cover shots. The Malaysian Armed Forces DK 47 Miri Marina Uranus, skippered by Mohamad Razali Mansor, snagged third place, to bring them into podium contention and tied on points for third with Ben Copely's Aquila 45 Katsu. The tie was broken in favour of Copely's Katsu as they have scored more second places than Miri Marina Uranus but the difficult duel between them will last long in the crews' memories.
Only seconds separated the IRC 1 fleet all week and all five top contenders scored at least one win during the series. All eyes were on the tightly bunched yachts on the start line and followed them closely around the course. Marcel Liedts Elektra jumped out into the lead and extended around the course to come up trumps in the first race. Bill Bremner's Foxy Lady 6 was quick off the start line and up the first leg to be in contention with their adversaries. They hung in to score second place by 31 seconds, in front of Sarab Singh's Windsikher and Walawala 2, who finished with the same corrected time and ended up tied for third place.
After another tightly packed start, Elektra got away cleanly and looked like they were going to repeat. The other skippers and crew remained firmly committed on the upwind tacking duel and determined to push for the fastest boat speed on the spinnaker runs. As they crossed the finish line, no one knew who the winner was, as only seconds would count. Calculators were running hot in race central, producing the corrected times and overall placings.
Eventually it was Bill Bremner's Foxy Lady 6 taking the win by 8 seconds from Singh's Windsikher and Liedts Elektra a further 15 seconds adrift in third place. This result handed Steve McConaghy his sixth win as tactician and Bremner's Foxy Lady 6 the IRC 1 title, to add onto their 2007 victory, when they both sailed together on Foxy Lady 4 (Now Windsikher). Elektra's exemplary performance gave them a leg up into second overall and thereby relegated fellow line honours contender, Steve Manning and sister-ship Walawala 2 down into third overall.
Ably assisted by replacement helmsman Scott Duncanson, Matt Allen's Adams 10 IchiBan, had a clean sweep in the IRC 2 class, winning all nine races to go into the Samui Regatta record books. The only boat capable of taking the fight to IchiBan was Gary Baguley's El Coyote, which ended up with a sting of second places and in the bridesmaid role. Mixed in behind them, a variety of displacement cruising boats were spaced around the course that produced some interesting results as the week wore on. Coming into the final day, Brian Coianiz's Sayer 13 Siren held third overall but a slow day and Nick Smith's Ericson 38 Freewind slotting into 3rd & 4th places, allowed Freewind through to take over the podium spot for the Bareboat/Cruising Class.
Freewind pushed hard all week and came out on top, never finishing worse than second to take home the Bareboat/Cruising Class title. Despite breaking the forestay and withdrawing from the race, Mick Grover's Elliot 7 Moon Shadow rebounded with two firsts and a couple of podium finishes to take second overall. Second and third place finishes for Patinyakorn Buranrom's Hood 23 Sansiri secured them third overall.
Although Henry Kaye's Seacart 26 Sweet Chariot showed signs of brilliance and won some races, it was the consistency displayed by David Liddell's Corsair 37 Miss Saigon that won the day and it took home the Multihull title. And despite Kunta's twin rigged Crazy Horse "no show" over the last few days, the boat was rewarded with third place in the division.
Well the sailing season is run and done for another year. Actually in a region blessed with year-round warm weather, the season never stops. It takes a break while boats are repositioned for the next competition. Organizers estimated that accumulatively the yachts covered nearly 100,000 nautical miles to compete in Samui, which makes it truly an international event by any standard. Although numbers were down, there was a quality lineup that produced some of the closest racing in recent history. The casual style of the event promotes camaraderie, friendship and most of all good sportsmanship. Plenty of that was on display at the nightly happy hour and prize presentation on Chaweng Beach in front of the Centara Grand Beach Resort.
About Samui Regatta
The Samui Regatta was formed in 2002 and is also known at the 'Tropical Island Regatta". Over its 12 year history, the regatta has grown from strength-to-strength regularly attracting a strong racing, cruising and multihull fleet and approximately 500 participants from over 20 countries. The Samui Regatta has established itself as one of Asia's leading regattas and one of the best regatta party scenes. The Samui Regatta attracts many international participants from Asia and beyond, as well as Thailand-based sailors and boats. The Regatta is the final event in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship, a series of 5-star racing events held throughout Asia.