Saturday, 5 December 2009

Phuket King's Cup day four - what a difference a windy day makes

Miss Saigon and Zhuka. Image copyright Guy Nowell.

by Joseph Henry

It was a day of high drama for the international fleet competing in the 23rd Phuket King's Cup in the windy race day four with damaged boats and gear, and plenty of protests.

After gentle, shifty breezes and smooth seas for the first three days of racing, the international fleet were today confronted today with strong winds and choppy sea conditions resulting in sail damage, broken masts, a broken rudder and a few broken crew. Now 10 protests are to be heard by the International Jury.

Blitzing the 111-boat fleet in today's racing was Henry Kaye and Fergus Wilmer's Seacart 30 catamaran, Thor, taking the first gun of the day. Next to finish was Firefly 850 multihull Brent Gribble's Twin Sharks, well ahead of the Racing division's big boat, Frank Pong's Reichel Pugh 76 footer, Jelik II.

The dramas started on the Racing division start line."Just prior to the start we broke a couple of battens in the main and they poked a hole through the mainsail." With a lumpy sea, 22 knots and 10 other boats in start formation, Roberts's decided instead of sending a crewman up the mast, to drop the main and replace the battens. "We were quite late for the start so that put us right behind the 8-ball. But then we had a really good first beat and a first reach and we got back in touch with the other boats. We gradually wore them down.

Hi Fi. Image copyright Guy Nowell.

"We liked the heavier conditions. This was more our day. Without that five minute penalty I am pretty comfortable we would have had a win. I am happy with the performance of the boat and the crew is going much better than at the start of the regatta," Roberts's said.

Evolution Racing finished in third place behind Hi-Fi. Unfortunately for Roberts he is being protested by Full Metal Jacket for using their motor within the start sequence. Roberts's completed his 720 degree turn, but now the matter is with the International Jury.

Finally Frank Pong's Jelik II took the Racing division double, winning both line and handicap honours in today's long southern island race. Sailing a superb 28 nautical mile race Jelik II led the fleet off the start line flying past the first mark well ahead of its pointscore rivals Neil Pryde's Hi-Fi and Chris Meads's Full Metal Jacket.

"It got up to 20 knots at times, but then it moderated. The sea was choppy which was possibly what caused the damage to the others boats. We went the right way today. It was very close racing today," Pong said.

Tazo Too tactician Jamie Wilmot reported at the end of the race that they were delighted to finally not come last. Yesterday saw the team frantically trying to fix the boat after experiencing keel problems in the last two race days. The dagger boards, canting keel and twin rudder yacht finally passed some of the bigger boats in the Racing division ending the day in ninth place. "We got the canting keel sorted out and are now back in the game. With a bit more breeze we could get more speed with the canting keel downwind. We caught up a lot downwind today. Even though we are handicapped out we can still get some good rides out of the boat," Wilmot said.

AA. Image copyright Guy Nowell.

The overall provisional results for the Racing division after seven races and one drop leaves Hi-Fi on nine points with Full Metal Jacket and Jelik II in equal second on 18 points and Evolution Racing on 21 points.

In Premier division Robert Tanner's Shahtoosh had a blinder of a race to finish ahead of Anthony Hasting's Baby Tonga-Hideaways Club and Jon Wardill's Australian Maid. On the first work Baby Tonga-Hideaways Club struggled with putting a reef in their main losing a lot of ground to Shahtaoosh. Two boats in the division did not finish today; Bob Yapps's YoMo and Mario Zansi's Obsession II. Horst Lakits's Big A did not start the race today due to problems with a leak in the boat's head which overnight caused it to take on water.

The Premier division overall provisional pointscore after five races and one drop places the consistently well-sailed Baby Tonga- Hideaways Club still in first place on six points, Shahtoosh just one point behind on seven and then Australian Maid in third on 11 points.

IRC1 division was again dominated by Matt Allen's Ichi Ban. The mover in this division today in the heavier winds was Brent Morgans's Beneteau First 40.7 L'autre femme. In third place was Yasuo Nanamori's old IOR boat, Switchblade. In fourth and clearly also benefitting from the heavier winds was Peter Sorensen's Sail Plane.

Second placed going into today's race, Koull Baby's owner Peter Wintle, another Cruising Yacht Club of Australia member, was pleased with his boat's performance today. "We had a good start and a great second leg. The beat was tough for us because we are a very small boat, only 37 feet. We had a lot to do to catch up with the bigger boats. It was very sloppy after going around the top mark and it went very light at the top. Normally we would catch up on the spinnaker run, but it went very light," Wintle said. Unfortunately for Wintle his result was a fifth.

Overall with seven races completed and one drop now has Ichi Ban still in first place on six points with Koull Baby holding onto second with 19 points and Switchblade moving up to take third place with 21 points,

IRC2 was one more class with too much excitement today with CDR Pomprom Sakultern's Thai Navy 2 loosing it's mast near Ko Hi island and one of his crew badly hurt when the mainsheet block hit his head. The racing continued with 2008 division winner CPO Wiwat Poonpat and his Thai Navy 1 team winning the race. In second place was Peter Dyer's Team Bentley and in third, Ken Eyears taking his second third place of the regatta.

"Today was a very good wind for the Farr MRX. The team worked really well and made the boat fast. The boat likes the heavy wind", Poonpat said.

The overall provisional pointscore after seven races and one drop sees no change to the top three places from yesterday's results with Peter Dyer's Team Bentley still in first place on 12 points, Royal Thai Navy 1 in second on 13 points and Stuart Williamson's Skandia Endeavour of Whitby in third on 19 points.

As the breeze softened up the top of course the race committee decided to shorten the course for the Bareboat Charter, Classic, Modern Classic, Cruising and Cruising Multihull divisions.

It was dramatic racing in the Bareboat Charter division with four DNFs and one dismasting. The start was chaotic with people calling each other up, barging and showing very competitive behaviour. Just after the start Jan Rudel's Sunsail Odyssey 35 Princess Arieta lost its mast.

By the first mark the fleet has spread out and the steered well clear of the mark as they sailed in 20 plus knots. First place in the race went to John Ford's Little Eva, followed by Keisuke Nagamatsu's Fidgi and then Mike Crisp's Venture. Pointscore leader at the start of the day, Terry McLaughlin's Princess Sharda finished fifth.

The overall places after five races and one drop has Venture and Princess Sharda equal first on nine points. Just one point behind is Figdi on 10 points and in fourth is Little Eva on 11 points.

Race five for the Modern Classic division saw Nick Band's Emerald Blue take first place ahead of Peter Wood's Windstar and Simon Jupe's Waconda in third. Overall Windstar is on four points and still leads Emerald Blue on seven points with Reinhard Haiber's Pytheas Aura holding third on 14 points.

The Cruising division battled the choppy sea conditions to complete race four of the regatta. In first place was Bob Ashman's Simba followed by Rod Heikell's Skylax with Richard Macfarlane's Aida taking third. Overall and with one drop, this leaves Simba still in first place on four points, Skylax in second on five points and Simon Piff's Rainbow Dream just holding on to third with nine points.

The Firefly 850s also had their share of dramas with both Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi mainsail falling apart and Damian Ford's Sea Property mainsail tearing in the second top panel. "Just off the back of the island we got a split in the main. We nursed it up the windward leg and then all the way on the downwind. We are very happy with the results. All it had to do was tear off and we would not have finished the race. We are wrapped to finish and get second, which we could not believe. We got a few 20 knot gusts.

"We hit about 15 or 17 knots boat speed and managed to get the hull about two metres in the air at one point, and we did one nose dive which nearly got us at one point otherwise we were pretty much in control," helmsman Shaun Jackson said.

Division leader Twin Sharks joined the rest of the fleet reefing down their main."It was a very good reach from the top mark to the committee boat. We were probably doing close to 20 knots and overtook a lot of other boats in other fleets. Going around the committee boat to go upwind to the islands there was very, very big waves with the boats going and stopping and going and stopping. Halfway up the beat our jib stared to fall apart," Gribble said.

Chris Meads (left), Chris Dickson (right) and the Full Metal Jacket crew, Phuket King's Cup 2009. Image copyright Guy Nowell.

The results for the Firefly 850s one race today was Brent Gribble's Twin Sharks in first, Sea Property second and Hans Rahman's Voodoo third. After seven races and one drop this leaves Twin Sharks still in first on nine points, then Voodoo in second on 12 points with Sea Property just one point behind on 13.

These results may change however with Twin Sharks lodging a protest against the Race Committee for the penalty decision awarded against them in race five.

Henry Kaye/Fergus Wilmer's Thor had a massive lead over the rest of the Multihull Racing division to take out their seventh win from seven races. In second place was David Liddell's Miss Saigon taking their second third place of the regatta. Sadly for Radab Kanjanavanit's Seamico Cedar Swan, who went into race seven in second place on the overall pointscore, a broken rudder forced them to retire.

Thor's co-owner Fergus Wilmer said at the end of racing today, "It was fun out there today. It was windy with nice waves. We hit about 22 knots and our average around the course was 13.8 knots. It was great. We should be clear of the rest, but we will definitely be racing tomorrow".

The overall provisional pointscore after seven races and one drop places has Thor in first place with six points, Miss Saigon moving up to second place with 15 points and Seamico Cedar Swan moving down to third place on 18 points.

In the Multihull Cruising the only finisher was Timothy Robins's Nipper placing him in first place overall.

There were no finishers in the Classic division race. The overall results for the division are Rene Tiemessen's Alondra in first, Christopher Edwards's Schwalbe in second and Simon Morris's Sirius in third.

Saturday is the King's birthday with a sail-past in the morning before the final day of racing.

King's Cup, Phuket

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