Published: Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Ryan Swift

The award-winning Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, presented by Mount Gay Rum, is set to welcome a large multinational fleet of boats to the 10th Anniversary edition, held next week, from 17 to 21 July, 2013 at Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket, Thailand. “The entry line-up for 2013 is looking very strong,” said Byron Jones, Managing Director of co-organiser Media Business Services (MBS). “Our aim has always been to put sailors at the centre of our decisions, and I believe news of the excellent venue and top quality on-water race management has spread, as we are seeing more chartered boats and international crews taking part this year, as well as retaining strong support from the local sailing community.” 

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A quality IRC fleet is shaping up, and depending on final entries, class splits will likely be IRC Racing I, IRC Racing II and IRC Cruising. Leading the fleet in length is the TP52 Team Premier, skippered by new owner and circuit veteran, Peter Ahern. Over 40 yachts have already registered or are expected to take part this year.

Having taken a hiatus from the Asian yachting scene, Ahern returned to Phuket Raceweek last year on the chartered Soto 30 Longitude, and this year is upping the ante (and size). Team Premier 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. However, the high calibre competition are unlikely to let them have it all their own way. 

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Up against Team Premier will be a newcomer to Phuket Raceweek, the Beneteau 44.7 Fuujin. Formerly known as Ichi Ban, the boat has been campaigned with much success on the Thai sailing circuit in recent years and at Phuket Raceweek will be 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 likely contenders also. 

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The standard of competition in IRC Cruising class is equally high, with a number of chartered boats and crew from as far a field as the USA, UK and New Zealand, to line-up against a strong local fleet who are hoping local knowledge will be their advantage. After success at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta earlier this year, Rob Azzopardi's Dreamtime is set to compete 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 – will also be in the mix.

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Phuket is home to a sizable multihull fleet, in large part due to the strong local boat-building industry. Designed for Phuket and built in Phuket are the one-design Firefly 850 Sport catamarans, and as always a competitive line-up is again expected, including returning champion Voodoo and regulars Twin Sharks and The Frog.

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2011 Multihull class winner DaVinci, also a Phuket-built catamaran, is back to defend their crown, with Mark Pescott at the helm, and they are up against three other local builds – Hurricane, Java and Nina – as well as the G Force 1500 Schionning design and Australian-built Mojo.

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Having a genuine Classic class is something unique to Phuket Raceweek and something the organisers have supported and encouraged since the beginning. Entries are already looking good with five having registered to date, including two newcomers, as well as perennial competitor Seraph, who at 106 is the oldest in the fleet. All in the Classic class will be racing for the perpetual Seraph Trophy.

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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 will take place from 17 to 21 July, 2013. The Cape Panwa Phuket Raceweek is the first event of the 2013-2014 Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship, with races in as many as seven classes.