Boats from around Asia headed to Thai-land's second most popular island destination for the final event showdown of the 2017/18 Asian Yachting Grand Prix from 26th May to 2nd June. Now in its 17th year, the Samui Regatta has been dubbed the “Tropical Island Regatta” with daily prize-giving on the beach at host sponsor Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, fast racing conditions and warm weath-er. Top yachts and sailors from around the region come to compete each year.
This year, leading the charge in class IRC Zero was the 66-foot Alive (AUS), skippered by Duncan Hind. A newcomer to the Samui Re-gatta, but a familiar face in Hong Kong and on the Australian circuit, Hind and his crew were up against some tough competition in the form of four TP52s – defending champion THA72 (THA), skippered by Kevin Whitcraft; Ark 323 (CHN), led by Chen Fulin and sailed with an all-Chinese crew; Freefire (HKG), skippered by Sam Chan; and Team Ulumulu (MAS), skip-pered by Troy Yaw. They were joined by Sarab Singh's well-campaigned Windsikher II out of Singapore, a past winner in Samui.
“This is one of the most competitive IRC Zero line-ups we've ever had. Four TP52s plus the Welbourne 52 Windsikher II and 2017 Hong Kong to Vietnam Race Line Honours win-ner, Alive,” said Simon James, Samui Regatta Race Director.
IRC One was equally competitive with defending champions Loco (SIN) taking on Mandrake III (HKG), who have competed in all Samui Regattas to date, Zannekin (HKG), skip-pered by Marcel Liedts, Fujin (AUS), skippered by Timothy Fox, and Gary Baguley's El Coyote (AUS).
In the Performance Cruising Class Tim McMahon's SailQuest Hi Jinks (USA) were up against local favourite Moon Shadow (GBR), skippered by Mick Grover while the Multihull Class saw four one-design Corsair Pulse 600s, all chartered to international crews.
The larger yachts were joined by a dinghy fleet of youth sailors from Samui, Phuket and Koh Phangan, who competed in the Samui Youth Challenge on the opening weekend (Sat-urday 26th and Sunday 27th May), and for the first time at the regatta there was a Kiteboard foil racing with the event hosting the first round of the “Asia & Oceania - KTA Hydrofoil Series”, which was held 31st May to 2nd June.
The sun teased and the wind held steady on the final day of the 2018 Samui Regatta. Race Officer Ross Chisholm set two windward/ leewards for the keelboat and multihulls classes while it was a three-race showdown for the Hydrofoil Kites off Mae Nam Beach.
It's been a week of dominance by Kevin and Tom Whitcraft and their crew on the TP52 THA72. Other than a fourth place on Day 3, they haven't put a foot wrong across a wide range of conditions and have won eight from nine races, defending their IRC Zero title with a 17-point winning margin.
When you delve into the results deep-er, however, the racing has been much closer than it at first appears with winning margins of eight seconds in Race 1 and only four seconds in Race 3, a trend that can be seen across the seven-strong class
On the final day, the battle was more about second and third places. Tensions were high with individual recalls for Ark 323 and Freefire in the first race and a general recall in the second. A second in Race 8 by the much-im-proved Chinese team on Ark 323 (less than 60 seconds behind THA72 on corrected time) helped put some breathing space between them and Freefire (HKG) in the overall standings while a third for Zannekin (HKG) saw them leapfrog Alive.
Heading into the final race, Sarab Singh's team on WindSikher were sitting second overall with a five-point lead over Zannekin and bearing any major mishap, had their place secured. A fifth in the final race for WindSikher was enough for them to finish second overall while a third for Alive saw them claim third place, two points ahead of Zannekin.
Seeing two or three TP52s on the start-line of any regatta in Asia is quite special, but four is almost unheard of. A fifth TP52 was expected to compete this year but sadly had to pull out last minute, and there's talk of two more joining the circuit in the not-too-distant future – seven TP52s on a start-line is a distinct possibility come next year.
it on to the podium but it was THA72's consistency that saw them claim the division win. Second and third place went down to the wire with Sam Chan's Freefire having a single point lead over Ark 323 with just one race to go. Freefire drove their advantage home in the final race finishing second, and in the process claimed second overall in the TP52 division. Ark 323 had to settle for third, two points back.
Timothy Fox and crew on the chartered Fujin (AUS) saved their best for the final day – two wins from two races. A second for Mandrake III (HKG) in Race 8 meant Loco (SIN) had an uphill battle needing to reign in a three-point differential in the final race. Ultimately, it was too big of an ask. While they finished second ahead of Mandrake III, their third place was enough for them to win the IRC One class.
Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth, co-owners of Mandrake III have been compet-ing on the Asian circuit for more years than perhaps they would care to remember. Based in Hong Kong, they are stalwarts of the regional racing scene and have travelled far and wide competing in regattas with a number of Man-drakes and predominantly a Corinthian crew. Not only have they defended their IRC One ti-tle at Samui Regatta this year, but this win is the cherry on top of their 2017/18 Asian Yachting Grand Prix season. Having competed in eight regattas on the 13-regatta circuit this season, their top six scores count. Class winners at the China Coast Regatta (13pts), Phuket King's Cup Regatta (13pts), Samui Regatta (12pts), IRC Overall at Rolex China Sea Race (16pts), Commodore's Cup (13pts) and second place at the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (11pts), Mandrake III and the formidable Fred Kinmonth and Nick Burns duo are deservedly crowned 2017/18 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year
It was all change in Performance Cruising today when SailQuest Hi Jinks (THA) won the first race – their first win of the series. A second for Souay 1, despite some sail damage, was, however, enough for them to secure the title with one race to spare while they went on to wrap up the series with a win in the final race by 20 seconds on corrected time. Two DNS' brought Moon Shadow’s (THA) series to an early end and a third place overall.
Andy Pape’s Sudu Red (GER), leader of the Multihull class, broke his centerboard in the regatta’s passage race and fellow competitor Paul Baker, skipper of Sudu Yellow (AUS) – an identical one-design Corsair Pulse 600 – kindly offered his for use in the final day of racing. This gesture of sportsmanship helped Sudu Red score two wins on the final day and with that, the class title. Two second places for Nut Thongtoam’s Sudu Grey (THA) saw them tie with Mick Til-den’s Pixalux (AUS) who on count back (having more second place finishes over the series) were crowned second overall.
After a slow start for Thailand and Asian Champion, Narapichit Pudla came out blazing in the Hydrofoil Kites – Men’s class on the final day. Three bullets saw him jump to the top of the standings as he was crowned inaugural men’s winner in the first stop of the KTA Asia Pacific Hydrofoil Series, while compatriot Benyapa Jantawan went on to claim the Women's class.
In the Master’s class Daniel Leow (MAS) showed his class with six wins from nine races to dominate the class while Singapore’s Maximillian Maeder won the Boys division un-defeated and racing off the start-line was never out of the top three places when all class results are combined.
In Samui to observe the action was the team from JS Concert who following the conclusion of racing signed a contract for the Malaysia round of the KTA Asia Pacific Hydrofoil Series, which is set to take place later this year in November at Desaru Coast, in Johor. An area of 3,900 acres along a pristine 17km un-spoiled beachfront, the location offers perfect conditions for the KTA to bring international kiteboarding competition to Malaysia for the first time.
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