Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Australian Maid. Image copyright Duncan Worthington.
by Rob Kothe
King's Cup day two came down to finding a 'get out of jail' card.
Racing in day two of the 23rd Phuket King's Cup got off to a clean start with the fleet of 112 boats across 11 divisions revelling in the light air and flat sea.
But it eventually came down to a matter of finding a 'get out of jail card' for many of the yachts in today's racing as continuing light winds and strong coastal currents played havoc with the results of the mid-fleets boats. But for division leaders from yesterday's race, most found their card and used it well achieving in some cases lucky breaks and in others clever tactical decisions in what was generally summed up as a brilliant day's racing.
All fleets were sent on a coastal course allowing the fleets to converge at the Ko Kaeo Noi first gate before heading to round Ko Hi and Ko Aso islands before heading back through two gates and then to the finish off Nai Harn.
The Racing division's 28 nautical mile course was to see Frank Pong's Jelik II continue their dominance on the line and the smaller boat dominate on handicap. Russ Parker's Foxy Lady, Ray Roberts's Evolution Racing and Chris Mead's Full Metal Jacket chose the boat end of the start line to get a clean start while Jelik II was blocked in between Geoff Hill's Strewth and Markus Fiala's Tazo Too. She initially found it hard to gain clear air off the line.
At the first mark Full Metal Jacket with America's Cup helmsman Chris Dickson in charge, was already showing good speed in the light airs maintaining a mid-fleet position. In the lead were Hi-Fi, then Evolution Racing and then Jelik II.
It was not until the top end of the course that Jelik II stormed ahead of the Racing division. She came down the run under asymmetrical pushing for every bit of speed and distance she could gain on her smaller rivals. Crew weight was out and aft as Pong looked for separation. Jelik II finished first but this was not enough to gain handicap honours.
Back on shore and Pryde was confident Hi-Fi would have a good result today, possibly even a win. He was right. They took out their second top place of the regatta. 'It was a hard day's work on Hi-Fi today. The wind died and there was a lot of current against us at the top of the beat. It was very difficult. We struggled to get around that weather mark. Then we had a long run back and we actually sailed our time out of Evolution Racing on the way back,' Pryde said.
In second place was Full Metal Jacket steered by Chris Dickson. ''It was good day today. It was a light breeze for a lot of it. It was a bit steadier and more consistent through the whole day. It didn't drop off during the end. We were happy with how we went up the beat. We are the little boat in the fleet so we click our watches when the big boats go around. We had our time on the big boats at the top mark,' Dickson said.
In third place was Evolution Racing.
Provisional overall results after four races has Hi-Fi on eight points ahead of Jelik II on equal 13 points with Nick Burns's EFG Bank Mandrake.
It was a spectacular sight as the fleets converged at the Ko Kaeo Noi gate. 'The fleets merged at the first gate and being a 40 footer going around the mark with 80 footers, it gets interesting. But it was fun, pleasant day. Australian Maid came across us on port once and we waved them through and then half an hour later we came across them on port and they waved us through,' Dickson said.
IRC1 division saw the continuing dominance by Matt Allen and his Beneteau 44.7 team on Ichi Ban. Looking for pressure on the right hand side of the course, Ichi Ban held back on the start line enough to sneak through past the committee boat and quickly onto port. 'We were happy to give away five seconds and happy to tack away and get free air. That ended up okay for us, 'Allen said.
Ben Copley's Katsu started at the pin end finding themselves caught up in the fleet and struggling to get boat speed in the four knots of breeze. By the first mark Katsu had recovered with Ichi Ban behind and then Yasuo Nanmori's Switchblade. The real battle for this division came when they went on the wind and headed up to the top mark at Ko Oeo island. 'On the wind and there was quite a bit of current and then the people who got in towards the shore first made reasonable gains with less current. We stood on and stayed with that shore, but then as we got further up there was more and more current.
'Some of the other guys then tacked off and went the other way around the island and they made quite big gains. I think we ended up in a lot more current than they did. So we ended up behind the other 44.7s at that stage. Around the top of the island we met again and then some of the guys went inshore and we stayed in the middle and that eventually seemed to pay off. We made quite good gains and pegged back one of the 44.7s and then we were in between the two of them,' Allen said. Then the lead was up for grabs as Ichi Ban gained on Robert van Paridon's Tantrum. 'On the last leg to the finish line he (Tantrum) had an average spinnaker drop and we got inside him and we just beat him by a couple of lengths.
'For us, the race looked pretty good early, not so good in the middle and a lot better in the end.' And it was good for Allen taking out another first place of the regatta to place them on a total of four points. Second in the race was Katsu followed by Tantrum. On overall handicap Katsu holds onto second place with eight points ahead of Peter Wintle's Koull Baby on 18 points.
IRC2 sailed a 22 nautical mile course. The clean start saw Koji Kikuchi's Platu25 Puma slip in around the committee boat well clear of its rival Peter Dyer's Team Bentley who started at the pin end. It seemed Dyer didn't want to loose sight of Puma as they tacked quickly onto port and headed out right on the same course as Puma. It was a very close battle between these two boats throughout the race. At the finish though it was Team Bentley ahead of Stuart Williamson's 34-foot Skandia Endeavour of Whitby followed by Niels Dgenkole's Phoenix.
Overall, after four races, these results place Team Bentley on eight points, ahead of Puma on 15 points and then Skandia Endeavour of Whitby just one point behind on 16 points.
Anthony Hasting's Baby Tonga-Hideaways Club did it again today, taking out line honours ahead of Robert Tanner's Shahtoosh. Baby Tonga's skipper Fraser Johnston said after racing today 'We sailed well in the conditions and didn't make any mistakes. We got around the first mark clean and then Australian Maid and Shatoosh 2 started fighting each other and that gave us a two minute break. They got distracted and we got ahead. On the beat we were playing with the TP52s. They started dumping on us. I think they were embarrassed that the old Winnebago was up there with them.
'There was a lot of current on the beat. It was just starting to run out in the last half hour of the beat. We got around the top mark while the others were still struggling with the current. There is another Beneteau 53 out there (Ocean Agassy) that could have beaten us. We expected to get first or second.'
On board today was Baby Tonga's sponsor, Mike Lamb from The Hideaways Club, who was ecstatic about the boat's results so far. 'We are over the moon. Another first would be an awesome start to the regatta.'
Australian Maid finished third on handicap. After two races Baby Tonga-Hideaways Club is ahead of Shatoosh and Australian Maid who are both on five points.
The Bareboat Charter division's 25 boats had a frustrating day as between the light breeze and strong currents in the passage between Ko Bon and Ko Aeo islands, the fleet struggled to complete the 22 nautical mile. Only four boats eventually finished. First was Mike Crisp's Venture almost an hour and half ahead of second placegetter Princess Anna. In third was Terry McLaughlin's Princess Sharda. Overall this leaves these boats in the top three places.
The Modern Classic fleet also encountered the same breeze and current challenges with only three boats finishing; Peter Wood's Windstar, Nick Band's Emerald Blue and Reinhard Haiber's Pytheas Aura. Overall after two races these boats also hold the top three places.
The number of finishers was a bit stronger in the Cruising division with Simon Piff's Rainbow Dream ahead of Bob Ashman's Simba followed by Rod Heikell's Skylax. The top two boats were only a minute apart on elapsed time. Overall results place Simba ahead of Skylax and Rainbow Dream.
The light-weight Firefly 850 sports boats also struggled in the challenging conditions with five of the seven boats in the fleet finishing. Brent Gribble's Twin Sharks achieved her third bullet of the regatta while Hans Rahman's Voodoo was eight minutes behind in second. In third place was Damian Ford's Sea Property. On overall results Twin Sharks retains their lead with five points ahead of Voodoo on eight points and then Sea Property on 12 points.
Most of the Multihull division finished with Thor holding a commanding lead throughout the race to finish first. Fergus Wilmer who said he was trying to remain inconspicuous during the regatta as he was supposed to working, not sailing, could not have been more conspicuous as he steered Thor across the line in among the big boats.