Published: Monday, 31 July 2017

The sheltered waters of Phuket's Phang Nga Bay are an ideal place for a safe charter, as a group from Beijing recently experienced, writes Kevin Green.

China Charter At Cape Panwa 1

(Photos: Kevin Green -  The Chinese team chartered Ramrod, a Farr 40, for the four days of the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Race Week)

Jun Chen and his group of eight friends left Beijing for a week's sailing at Phuket's Cape Panwa Hotel Race Week. Their chartered boat was a famous one design class, a Farr 40, was skippered by the very experienced Steve McConaghy who races throughout the Asian region. “We had a lot to learn and for some of us it was too difficult but we still had fun,” Jun told me as we sailed back to port on the last day. 

China Charter At Cape Panwa 3

(June Chen (on mainsheet) and his Chinese team found the Farr 40 an exciting if challenging boat to race under the guidance of skipper Steve McConaghy)

I had come aboard to be the bowman for the day as a crew member had dropped out. Helping me on the foredeck was one of the two female Chinese crew.

Viola, who worked at the mast under the guidance of experienced Australian sailor Richard Cunningham. At the back of the boat, Jun Chen's job was the second most import role on the boat – trimming the mainsail. The light winds that averaged 8 knots were ideal for this enthusiastic crew to enjoy the four-day regatta.

The crew had various levels of sailing experience. Zhao Qing was one of the most experienced, having done one China Cup and seven Hainan races. The Hong Kong to Hainan Race is a biennial Offshore Category One race for 390nm downwind to Sanya, on the island of Hainan in southern China. Jun Chen is also a boat owner, with a fast Mills 1180 race yacht.

China Charter At Cape Panwa 4

(Running under spinnaker in gentle winds was very enjoyable aboard Ramrod)

“Sailing is difficult to do because we are not allowed to sail on the lakes around Beijing so my yacht is 2,000 km on the coast, so we don't sail very much.”

Among the competitors was also a young Japanese crew aboard the Firefly 850. Natsuki Motoyoshi's Mil Grace catamaran claimed two first places to reach third place and a spot on the podium during the gala dinner and prize giving at the Cape Panwa Hotel. Firefly 850s are a fast and exciting class that can reach speeds of nearly 30 knots, so not for the inexperienced.

China Charter At Cape Panwa 2

(Photo: Guy Nowell -  Natsuki Motoyoshi's Mil Grace catamaran claimed two first places to reach third place and a spot on the podium during the gala dinner and prize giving at the Cape Panwa Hotel)

Instead, the inexperienced can charter the smaller and newer Corsair Pulse trimaran that is built in Vietnam. These are an inexpensive charter and require only two sailors.

Back on Ramrod, we had very successful final day's racing with the best result during the event when we came in third place, so made it onto the podium at the daily prize giving. This made Jun Chen very happy.

China Charter At Cape Panwa 5

(The Chinese team and crew on Ramrod happy after their best result of the week, with a third place in the final race)

“In our division of six boats we were competitive with boats 4,5 and 6, so we had a good final day at Cape Panwa!” 

Phuket island is popular travel destination with three million annual visitors who mostly go to the busy west coast. Unlike the touristy west side, the Cape Panwa and it's numerous luxury resorts enjoys a more laid back atmosphere yet is only 40 minutes from the airport.

China Charter At Cape Panwa 6

(Writer Kevin Green)

Located just over the equator in the northern hemisphere means it's summer wet season, so the weather is hot and steamy. Not a problem for us at the Cape Panwa Hotel with its private beach and numerous nearby swimming pools of course. For the 41 boat fleet of mono and multihulls, the day started early and finished early, leaving plenty time for friends and family to enjoy shore-leave and the nightly parties under the swaying palms by the beach.  

Next year's event is on during July 18-22 2018.