|Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek celebrates a decade on the water|
Cape Panwa Hotel
Phuket Raceweek celebrates decade on the water
The award-winning Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, presented by Mount Gay Rum, welcomed a large multinational fleet of boats to the 10th Anniversary edition, held 17 – 21 July, 2013 at the Cape Panwa Hotel.
Over the past year, regattas around the region have experienced a decline in entries, however, Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek bucked that trend with over 37 boats signed up in six classes (IRC Racing I, IRC Racing II, IRC Cruising, Firefly 850 Sport, Multihull Racing and Classic), and more than 400 sailors participating.
Leading the fleet in length is the TP52 Oi! (formerly Team Premier), skippered by new owner and circuit veteran, Peter Ahern. Having taken a hiatus from the Asian yachting scene, Ahern returned to Phuket Raceweek last year on the chartered Soto 30 Longitude, and this upped the ante (and size). Oi! is well known throughout the region having competed in and won many regattas, including the 2011 Phuket Raceweek, that time chartered and skippered by Neil Pryde.
Up against Oi! was a newcomer to Phuket Raceweek, the Beneteau 44.7 Fuujin. Formerly known as Ichi Ban, the boat has campaigned with much success on the Thai sailing circuit in recent years and at Phuket Raceweek was skippered by familiar face, Peter Sorensen. While Ben Copley's Aquila Reichel Pugh 45 Katsu, and Kevin Whitcraft's modified GP42 Wan Ma Rang – both of which have been scoring podiums recently – make them strong contenders also.
The standard of competition in IRC Cruising class was equally high, with a number of chartered boats and crew from as far afield as the USA, UK and New Zealand lining up against a strong local fleet who had hoped local knowledge would be their advantage.
After success at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta earlier this year, Rob Azzopardi's Dreamtime would sail against Venture, Eloise, Lucky Lady Lucy, and local stalwart Linda, to name just a few, while the all-Thai crew on Ooh La La – without regular skipper Patinyakorn Buranrom who is competing in the TRANSPAC – was also in the mix.
Phuket is home to a sizable multihull fleet, in large part due to the strong local boat-building industry. The multihull-only ACYC Multihull Regatta, a precursor to Phuket Raceweek, provided a tune-up for crews heading to Raceweek the weekend before.
Designed for Phuket and built in Phuket are the one-design Firefly 850 Sport catamarans, and as always there was a competitive line-up including returning champion Voodoo and regulars Twin Sharks and The Frog.
2011 Multihull class winner DaVinci, also a Phuket-built catamaran, was back to defend its crown, with Mark Pescott at the helm, and was up against three other local builds – Hurricane, Java and Nina – as well as the G Force 1500 Schionning design and Australian-built, Mojo.
Having a genuine Classic class is something unique to Phuket Raceweek and something the organizers have supported and encouraged since the beginning.
Entrees included perennial competitor Seraph, who at 106 years old is the oldest in the fleet. All in the Classic class compete for the perpetual Seraph Trophy. On-the-water, Race Management was under the close supervision of Principal Race Officer Simon James of Regattas Asia, supported by an experienced and willing international team.
Bringing it home
Two races for all except the Classic class made for a hectic schedule of racing on the final day and with some classes on the edge, there was plenty still to play for. Wan Ma Rang in IRC Racing I, improving throughout, had their best day yet closing out the regatta with two second places. However, it wasn't enough to overhaul Katsu who has sailed consistently well and held onto second place by three points.
Class honours went to Australian Peter Ahern and his all-star crew on Oi! who with seven wins from eight races, were untouchable. Formerly Team Premier, Peter Ahern/ Scott Bailey/ Fergus Wilmer recently bought the boat, renamed her Oi! and Phuket Raceweek is their first competitive event. Having got some early points on the board in the 2013/14 Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship, Oi! now heads to Hong Kong to compete on the circuit.
IRC Racing II has been dominated by fellow Australian Peter Sorensen and his crew on Fujin, and that domination continued through to the final race. Eight wins from eight races speaks for itself and as sailing star Steve McConaghy, who was racing onboard the former Ichi Ban, said, "you could sail this thing backwards and still win."
The final day's battle, however, was for second and third in the class, between Stuart Williamson's Skandia Endeavour of Whitby and Neils Degenkolw's Phoenix. Despite struggling with their starts and being called OCS on more than one occasion, a good performance on the final day for Williamson and his crew (a 2,3, scoreline), saw them secure second overall and relegate Phoenix to third.
Having completed one race per day, the great winds on the final day saw Principal Race Officer Simon James set two races for IRC Cruising and Irish entry Windstar, helmed by Peter Woods, revelled in the conditions to finish the last day with two more wins, and win the class by four points.
The doggedly-determined Aussie team, Rob Azzopardi's Dreamtime, with two second placings on the final day, could not overhaul the leaders and had to stay in second place overall, four points back. Mike Crisp, helming Sail in Asia's Venture, who was introduced to a rocky outcrop on the third day – only to be hauled off by the obliging press corps – finished third overall on 11 points.
The super-fast Firefly 850 sport catamarans thrived in the strong winds during the regatta with competitors recording speeds in excess of 20 knots (37 km/h). Reading the conditions best and sailing consistently has been Twin Sharks, skippered by Briton John Newnham, who didn't contend the last race today having already won seven from seven and is the clear class winner.
However, second and third was a much closer battle, between Hans Rahmann's Voodoo and Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi. Voodoo came into the final day with a slight edge and a 2,1 scoreline on-theday saw them complete a strong Series and place second ahead of Moto Inzi by a single point.
The Multihull Racing class saw a remarkable comeback by Phuket sailor/designer, Mark Pescott, with a second and a first in the last races, to go into the clear as Multihull Racing class winner, helming DaVinci (12 points), and defending their title by just one point ahead of the week's leader, Alan Carwadine's Asia Catamarans Hurricane who had to settle for second overall. Another early leader, John Coffin's Java, came third, on 16 points.
The end of the Classic class was as expected, continuing the week-long pattern, with Simon Morris' Sirius (three points) at the front, Laurie Piper's Atlanta (seven) in second and the German maxi classic, Letizia, skippered by Capt. Bernd Gundel (eight), third. Perennial regatta entry, Captain Bao's Seraph was relegated to fourth place, although equaling Letizia on eight points.
While the Aussies took home a lot of silverware at this year's regatta, what was noticeable is the large number of top boats from the Ao Chalong Yacht Club, both winners and high-scoring performers.
The girls were out there again! Radiating fun and enthusiasm they have been learning rapidly since they started FireFly sailing about six months ago. Competing against other FireFly teams, many already sailing for years, the girls were challenged to integrate newly learned skills, all within the boundaries of good seamanship, while keeping the boat and crew safe.
"It's empowering to sail with women only. Taking chances and making mistakes is sometimes necessary to learn. We keep the atmosphere fun and supportive; there's no shouting or cursing on our boat," says Ozzie skipper Liz Schoch who has been sailing around Phuket and SE Asian seas for several years.
An avid regatta sailor, Liz also competed with an all girls' team in the 2012 China Cup and in this year's Bay Regatta with encouraging results. On the helm is Libby Boyd from the UK, a dinghy sailor since the age of 11. She is a qualified dinghy instructor, and a Yacht Master and Cruising Instructor. Libby would like to see the Lady Sevenstar team inspiring other women, young and old, to follow suit. "Sailing can be a lot of fun and racing together is a great experience!"
Trimmer Meike Lange from Germany joins most Sunday morning practices of the team and graduated from recreational novice to seasoned racing bow woman in the Bayand ACYC Mutihull Regattas. "Fireflys are great boats for learning to sail and racing gave us all a boost of confidence. Even if we might not win races against veteran FireFly crews yet, we will do our best."
Newbie Jo Rowley works the dagger boards. She hails from London and had been sailing just once on a FireFly during one of Lady Sevenstar's open days in May. She did sail for a week in Scotland but that was back in 2009. A master swimmer who has never been seasick in her life, Jo gets butterflies in her stomach while racing and is super enthusiastic about the sport and her first ever regatta.
Dutch mast woman Lies Sol is not as much focused on the results as on racing well and keeping it fun at the same time. "We've made a lot of progress in the past months and enjoy to test in this Raceweek what we are capable of. We're already looking ahead to possibly joining the Phuket King's Cup with the Lady Sevenstar team this year and even the China
New ownership announced for Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
At the end of the regatta, Media Business Services, lead by Mr. Byron Jones and Mrs. Kanyarat Jones, were announced as the new owners and rights holders of the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. The news was broken at the closing party and gala dinner of the highly successful 2013 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. Founder and now former rights holder Grenville Fordham of Image Asia Events, made the handover official in front of 500 sailors, VIPs, guests and the media.
"I'm very happy with how Raceweek has grown over the years and I am proud of what I and the Image Asia team have achieved," said Grenville Fordham, Managing Director of Image Asia Events.
"For myself, it is time to move on and in looking for someone to take the regatta forward I could not have found better than the Media Business Services team. Byron and Khun Kanyarat have been very hands-on co-organizing this year's event and have done a great job. They now know what's involved from beginning to end to make this regatta work, and I have full confidence in them continuing its tradition of success."
Looking to the future, Byron Jones, Managing Director of Media Business Services (MBS), said, "We are very excited to be entrusted with the future of Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. We are not actually new to the event, having been a media partner for a number years through our other business, 91.5FM Phuket Island Radio, and having worked closely with Grenville and the Image Asia Events team in a co-organizer capacity this year."
"We are aware of what makes this event such a success and judging by the feedback at the closing party and since, 2013 was one of the most successful yet. We won't be changing an award-winning formula, more contributing some new ideas and developments that we believe will make the event an even more enjoyable experience for all involved."
The 2013 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek welcomed a bumper 37-strong fleet for the 10th Anniversary and sailors enjoyed some of the best racing yet off Phuket's southeast coast. The dates for 2014 have already been set: the 11th Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek will take place 16th - 20th July at Cape Panwa Hotel.
A fleet of 14 Optimists and five Toppers took part recently in the newest event in Phuket's sailing calendar, the inaugural Junior Phuket Raceweek. Held off Panwa Beach Resort Phuket, youngsters from seven to fifteen years old completed four races in idyllic Phuket conditions under the watchful eye of Principal Race Officer Royal Thai Navy Rear Admiral Prasart Sribhadung together with an experienced international on-water team with support from the Royal Thai Navy. Organized by Media Business Services (MBS) and co-hosted by Regent Phuket Cape Panwa and Panwa Beach Resort Phuket, the youth regatta starts with an opening reception at the Regent Cape Panwa followed by one day of racing on and a beach barbecue and prize-giving at the Panwa Beach Resort Phuket.
Royal Thai Navy Rear Admiral Prasart Sribhadung was the Race Officer for the inaugural oneday event and set up to six races, a combination of trapezoid and windward/leeward courses, for the multinational fleet of youngsters.
Since it was announced earlier in the year, Junior Phuket Raceweek has been well received by the local sailing community and has received strong support from two of the leading yacht clubs on the Island, Ao Chalong Yacht Club (ACYC) and the Phuket Youth Sailing Club (PYSC). More recently, the Royal Thai Navy has pledged safety support for the event, further underscoring the organizer's goal to make it a community event.
"From the beginning we wanted to create a competitive sailing opportunity for youngsters on the Island, and welcome youngsters from afar. And with the support of the two leading yacht clubs and now support from the Royal Thai Navy, it's great to see the Island sailing community coming together and getting behind Junior Phuket Raceweek," said Byron Jones, Managing Director of organisers Media Business Services (MBS).
Phuket's east coast and the Panwa area offers some of the best sailing conditions on the Island during July, and together with co-hosts Regent Phuket Cape Panwa and Panwa Beach Resort Phuket, the area is an ideal location for the inaugural Junior Phuket Raceweek.
The fleet for 2013 Junior Phuket Raceweek included lots of young sailing talent ranging from seven to 18 years of age. Nattapong Yoangngam (Max) and Cartoon Juladej (Toon), despite being just 11 years old, have competed in multiple Thailand National Optimist Championships, have represented Phuket in the Phuket Youth Games, and have also represented Thailand at the Double Star Cup Regatta in Qingdao, China last year, in their sailing careers to date and will be up against some strong competition
Flying in from overseas specifically for the event was seven-year-old George, son of regular Firefly competitor Neil Ayres. While George has his work cut out against a top fleet, his father was also against some top sailors in the Firefly 850 Sport class and together they were eager to take home some silverware for their family. Nattapong Yoangngam (Max), at just 11 years old, has competed in multiple Thailand National Optimist Championships, represented Phuket in the Phuket Youth Games, and has also represented Thailand at the Double Star Cup Regatta in Qingdao, China last year, and his experience showed as he ran away with the Optimist title. Placing second in the opening race he went on to score three firsts thereafter and take out the inaugural Junior Phuket Raceweek Optimist class title by a clear two points from another 11 year old Cartoon Juladej (Toon), who scored a first and three seconds. Third place went to Gone, four points further back. "We're very happy with how the first Junior Phuket Raceweek has gone. Being the first year, our goal was to put on a competitive day of racing for young sailors, give them an opportunity to race in a professionally organised event, and judging by the smiles at the end of For more information, visit www.juniorphuketraceweek.com. the day, everyone had a great time," said Byron Jones, Managing Director of organisers Media Business Services (MBS). "Our longer term plan is to extend the format in terms of length and also number of classes. If there are other classes that wish to take part, then we're keen to accommodate. We look forward to feedback from the sailing community on this year's event and will let it grow organically."
In the Topper fleet, five budding sailors lined up for a day of top competition, and again there was one who stood above the rest and it was Ta who scored a second and three firsts to secure an easy victory. Youngster Not, with a mixed bag of results, managed to hold on to second place by a single point from Long, who despite placing first in the first race couldn't continue his form and finally placed third overall. Junior Phuket Raceweek is a parallel event to the award-winning Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek and is co-hosted by the Regent Phuket Cape Panwa and the Panwa Beach Resort Phuket, it was also supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Sports Authority of Thailand, and the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand.
Top three results
For more information, visit www.juniorphuketraceweek.com.