|Multihull Solutions Regatta Phuket|
What a difference a year makes; last year only eleven entrees, this year nineteen. A huge reason for that turnaround was principle sponsor Multihull Solutions and their GM Andrew de Bruin who threw their support wholeheartedly behind the event. Grenville Fordham also did a great job with pre-publicity making more people aware of the regatta than ever before. Then Kim, Pia and their crew did a great job of feeding and caring for the tired crews as they came ashore. Lest we forget, ACYC Commodore Mick Kealy, Secretary June Carwardine and all the ACYC committee members who made sure the whole event came off swimmingly.
The tropical cruising grounds in Southeast Asia have long been a breeding ground for multihull sailing to flourish. Nineteen multihulls were split into three classes for this regatta: Firefly One-Design, Racing Multi's (OMR) and Open Multi's (NHC Handicap). As Captain Marty said, "During the 2011 Multihull Championship, Asian Yachting wisely predicted that 'multihull's are the flavour of the decade' and we haven't been proved wrong yet. With boat designers, builders and composite experts, relocating to Phuket and surrounding Southeast Asian countries, the growth has been phenomenal and some very functional and sleek racing machines have emerged. For the Ao Chalong Yacht Club this is the 7th running of the 'Multihull Only' event and since Multihull Solutions have opened branches in Asia, sponsoring the regatta is a natural move and immediately raised the profile of the event to its former glory days.
"The five Firefly 850 Sports, racing one design, always provide close encounters and a great spectacle on the water. For all their past accolades, Hans Rahmann's Voodoo must start as the favourite, but recently the mantle has come under pressure from John Newnham's Twin Sharks. Roger Kingdon's ever illusive Moto Inzi has won here before and always poses a threat. The same goes for Neil Ayre after mastering the intricacies on Mamba. Joining for the first time, George Eddings Blue Nose and the chartered The Frog, will have to quickly get up to speed and get used to close quarter racing to make an impression."
Upon launching the event, Andrew de Bruin, Asia general manager of Title Sponsor, Multihull Solutions explained, "We're particularly keen to see more cruising yachts join in, as we plan to tailor the regatta's courses to suit the boats that enter." He went to say "That this regatta is a cruising yachtie's dream… three days sailing around the picturesque islands scattered off Chalong Bay, with a bunch of like-minded people, gathering at the yacht club bar afterwards, to regale each other with tall tales of their exploits over a few cold beers –what more could you want?"
Four of Asia Catamarans super-light Stealth catamarans lead the charge in the Racing Multis (OMR) Class. Alan Carwardine skippered the 11.8m Hurricane, while Mick Coleman was on the sistership Java. David Liddell, of Miss Saigon fame, took the reins on the Stealth 12 Afterburner and Russian Kirill Stashevskiy guided the biggest Stealth 13 Galeforce around the course.
For more speed, Henry Kaye has extended the Seacart 26 Sweet Chariot by 60cm, in an all-out effort to get the better of Shane Grover/Zam Bevan Corsair Sprint MK2 Bullet, Werner Amstutz's Corsair 28 Flying High and Peter Boyd's bigger Corsair 31Zig Zag. Grenville Fordham/Bob Mott's heavier displacement Andaman Cabriolet Nina and Mark Horwood's Formula 40 trimaran Adrenalin were all added into the mix for more excitement.
Three yachts responded to Andrew de Bruin's call to expand the Open Multis (Performance) Class: Roman Shirokov's Lagoon 380 Star Fruit and the all-Thai crew on the Nautitech 395 White Conch as well as Tim Milner's Whitehaven 38 Seekronghuk. This regatta is usually packed full of surprises and due to the unpredictable July weather makes it very open for the taking. Summaries of Captain Marty's daily race reports follow:
The 10 Racing Multis (OMR) were first off the rank, on a three-lap windward/leeward race. Mark Horwood's Formula 40 trimaran Adrenalin became the second casualty when its main beam broke loose and Werner Amstutz's Corsair 28 Flying High later joined the retirement list. The Stealth catamarans took off in a cloud of spray, with Mick Coleman's 11.8m Java leading the way, closely being stalked by Alan Carwardine's sister-ship Hurricane. Only 30 seconds separated them at the end and they stayed in that order after the handicaps were applied. The strong wind helped Grenville Fordham/Bob Mott's Andaman Cabriolet Nina lift their game and they claimed third place.
The second race saw three more retirements, Hurricane (mast rotation), Peter Boyd's Corsair 31 Zig Zag (trawling the spinnaker behind) and David Liddell's Stealth 12 Afterburner (fear of breaking a borrowed boat). Mick Coleman's 11.8m Java made it two wins out of two and snatched the overall lead. After leading off the start line and having a scathe free race, Grenville Fordham/Bob Mott's Nina scored second place and lined up in second overall. Shane Grover/Zam Bevan's Corsair Sprint MK2 Bullet survived the testing conditions and claimed third place and third overall as the others fell by the wayside.
The Firefly One-Design class won't start if the wind speed is over 22 knots for more than three minutes. Consequently, the first attempt at the second start was aborted while in sequence and they had to wait for the wind to abate. When they did finally start, Hans Rahmann's Voodoo put the pedal to the metal and winning both races on the day. George Eddings Blue Nose claimed second place in the first race, but retired with steering problems in the second race.
In the past few months we have seen some remarkable comebacks, no more so than John Newnham's crew in on Twin Sharks. After capsizing the day before, they were back out racing in the regatta and although a late start in the first race saw them grab 4th overall, they placed 2nd in the second race, to hold second spot in the standings.
Undeterred by the conditions Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi scored 3rd and 4th places to hold third spot overall. Neil Ayre's Advanced Racing Team (Mamba) retired from the first race but returned to score 3rd place in the second race to stay in the running.
All three Open Multis (NHC Handicap) yachts survived the onslaught and the juggling of places left them all tied with four points each. By winning the second race Tim Milner's Whitehaven 38 Seekronghuk took the overall lead. Roman Shirokov's Lagoon 380 Star Fruit won the first race to slide into second place, while two second places for the Nautitech 395 White Conch skippered by Hin sat in third.
Hans Rahmann's Voodoo remarkable winning streak in the Firefly One-Design Class finally came to an end suffering broken halyards in both races; Hans handed over the overall lead to John Newnham's Twin Sharks, who had problems of their own. After cleaning up on the first race, Twin Sharks shredded their second mainsail in as many days and Neil Ayre's Advanced Racing Team (Mamba) came through to win that race and slide into second overall. Despite some great starts, Roger Kingdon's crew on Moto Inzi were still coming to terms with handling the boat and settled on two 3rd place finishess, to sit in third overall. This dropped Voodoo to fourth overall.
Mixed emotions for the 10 Racing Multis (OMR) yachts: Henry Kaye's Seacart 26 Sweet Chariot suffered broken halyards and was forced to retire. Once again, Mark Horwood's precarious balanced Formula 40 trimaran Adrenalin retired after two laps and Peter Boyd's Corsair 31 Zig Zag disappeared from the course. Shane Grover/Zam Bevan's Corsair Sprint MK2 Bullet was one of three boats that started prematurely and did not return to restart.
The Stealth catamarans dominated the proceedings on this day. The builder and designer, Alan Carwardine, on his 11.8m Asia Catamarans Hurricane traded first and second place finishes with Mick Coleman's sister ship, Java. Carwardine's retirement on Day One paved the way for Java to take the lead in the overall standings, but that could change on the final day of racing. Grenville Fordham/Bob Mott's Andaman Cabriolet's Nina claimed third in the first race but retired with broken reef lines in the second race, reducing their lead to third overall.
Even though all three Open Multis (NHC Handicap) were tied on four points and everything to play for, Tim Milner's Whitehaven 38 Seekronghuk did not make it out to the startline. This left Roman Shirokov's Lagoon 380 Star Fruit and the Nautitech 395 White Conch skippered by Tu Songyod to fight it out. By winning one race each, they became tied with seven points apiece, with everything in play for on the final day.
In the Racing Multis (OMR) Class, Hurricane traded first and second place finishes with Java, preventing Hurricane from overtaking Java for the title. Carwardine's retirement on Day One became the drop race but it was not enough to interfere with the superbly sailed Java, who was on the pace all regatta and finished every race in the top two places. Two third places for Grenville Fordham/Bob Mott's Andaman Cabriolet's Nina, gave them the bronze.
It's been a game of snakes and ladders in the Firefly One-Design Class. Hans Rahmann's Voodoo streaked off with two wins on Day One, but by not finishing any races on Day 2 dropped down to fourth. After capsizing on the practice day, John Newnham's Twin Sharks made a remarkable comeback, to lead by the finish of Day 2.
Voodoo bounced back into contention by winning the first race on the last day, as some boat handling errors and minor breakages left Twin Sharks back in fifth place. All the time, Neil Ayre's Advanced Racing Team (Mamba) were picking up podium places and by winning the last race and after dropping their first race withdrawal they came out on top for the title. After bringing his team from the UK for many years, this was Ayre's first and well-deserved overall victory. After the numbers were crunched Twin Sharks ended up in second spot and Voodoo placed third.
Coming into the final day, the two remaining boats in the Open Multis (NHC Handicap) Class were tied on seven points apiece. Tu Songyod's all-Thai crew on the Nautitech 395 White Conch mistakenly thought they were over the start line and lost time restarting. The Russians on Roman Shirokov's Lagoon 380 Star Fruit took the lead, but on the long run to the outer harbour mark, were overtaken by Songyod's White Conch and they finished in that order. When the handicaps were applied Star Fruit came out in front and claimed the title for a very jubilant Russian crew.
Ao Chalong was a perfect place to stage the event as the Fireflys were built at Latitude 8 on Friendship Beach, a Mark Pescott design and Mark Horwood build. The area is also home to Roger Diggelmann, whose previous company Composite Yacht Catamarans built the Andaman Cabriolet Nina, and whose present company Asia Catamarans, built Hurricane, Afterburner, Java and Galeforce.
This is a non-profit volunteer run event with an earlybird entry fee of 3,500 baht for boat and the skipper plus 1,500 baht per crew that goes towards paying for the longtail boats, lunches and gas for the support boats. This three-day regatta is always held the weekend before the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, making both events more attractive for sailors coming from abroad as they can get in seven days of great sailing spread over ten days.