Day 1 of the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
Published: Friday, 19 July 2013
The 37-strong fleet at the 10th Anniversary Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek enjoyed some fast and furious racing today off Panwa Cape on Phuket's southeast coast. Winds exceeding 15 knots, combined with 2-3 metre swells, made for perfect Phuket sailing conditions on Day One of the award-winning regatta. Classic and IRC Cruising classes raced a single, long 'round-the-islands' course, enjoying the strong breeze and scenery in equal measure, while the two IRC Racing classes and two multihull classes completed two races to get their series underway.
Three boats lined up in IRC Racing I including the former Team Premier sporting a new paint job, renamed Oi! and with a new crew and Peter Ahern at the helm. Although being away from the Asian big boat sailing scene for a few years, Ahern and crew were back where they left off winning the first race on corrected time. The Reichel Pugh 45 Katsu, skippered by Ben Copley, was just one minute back in second with Thai favourite Wan Ma Rang, skippered by Kevin Whitcraft, in third.
The second race got underway in softening breeze and improved crew work with clean and slick mark roundings by Katsu saw them steal the handicap win in Race 2 from Oi! by less than a minute, with Wan Ma Rang again in third. With just two to three minutes separating the three boats in IRC Racing I, any mistake could prove costly in this class. The Benetau 44.7 Fujin, formerly Ichi Ban, now under new ownership and skippered by Peter Sorensen, had the best of the racing in IRC Racing II with a double daily double – two line honours and handicap wins. Stuart Williamson's Skandia Endeavour of Whitby scored 2,4 with Phoenix two third places. Pre-race potential podium placer, Madame Butterfly, skippered by Peter Dyer, suffered equipment problems in Race 1 leaving them to finish the day with a DNF and DNS, and their hopes of a podium looking distant. Ireland's entry, Peter Wood, sailing Windstar out of Phuket's Ao Chalong Yacht Club, led fellow-Ao Chalong skipper, Rob Azzopardi's Dreamtime in IRC Cruising class, with Aussie Mike Crisp, four minutes behind in third, helming Sail in Asia Venture.
The Firefly 850 sport catamarans were in their element in today's conditions with many flying a hull and covering the course in record time. Defending champion in the Firefly 850 class, Voodoo skippered by Hans Rahmann, got off to a slow start by their standards with a 2,3 today. However, the glory belongs to John Newnham and his crew on Twin Sharks who nailed both starts and sailed impeccably to scored two bullets and take an early lead in the series. A 3,2 by Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi puts them in a healthy position going into the second day.
Despite leading off the line in Multihull Racing class, Peter Wilcox and crew on Mojo suffered gear damage and retired from Race 1 leaving it open for Asia Catamarans Hurricane who was hot on their tail. However, they suffered a damaged spinnaker while leading and fell back to finish fifth overall opening to door for John Coffin's Java to take the win, marginally ahead of Phuket Raceweek co-organizer, Grenville Fordham's Nina, and DaVinci, skippered by Peter Gallagher, in third. In Race Two, with lessening winds, Aussie Alan Carwardine's Asia Catamarans Hurricane made up for their problems earlier with a clear win over Java pushing them into second, and DaVinci again claiming third.
The Classic class race saw the lumbering "Queens of the Sea" led home by Simon Morris and crew on Sirius, with the 107-year old Seraph, skippered by Captain Bao, in second and Laurie Piper's Atlanta in third. The largest in the fleet, the stunning 90-foot Letizia, skippered by Capt. Bernd Gundel, was OCS and will be looking to make ammends tomorrow.
Four days of world-class yacht racing in Phuket, Thailand, combined with four nights of magical, beachside parties at the 5-star Cape Panwa Hotel, the 10th Anniversary Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek takes place 17 – 21 July, 2013. Racing continues tomorrow.
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