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The King’s Multihulls
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:02    PDF Print E-mail
A strong multihull contingent assembled as part of the 170 fleet - comprising 80 yachts, 50 dinghies and 40 windsurfers - off Phuket's south west corner during early December. Attracting a large international group of sailors from Europe, the middle east and Asia Pacific the King's Cup again lived up to its reputation as the preeminent event in the region with about 1,500 sailors c omp e t i n g . Onshore, the nightly parties held at a different venue allowed everyone the excuse to sample the burgeoning tourist promenades around Karon and Kata Beaches; and for the bump and grind brigade there was raunchy Pa Tong.
  We sailed in moderate to strong NE trade winds during a week which had plenty thrills and spills – including witnessing the dismasting of a big cat - so there was lots to talk about at the bars and clubs around our sailing venue at Kata Beach. Australian's were strongly represented in the seven boat multihull fleet including Andrew Stransky's home-built Fantasia from Queensland, John Punch's Stealth 12.6 Sidewinder of Darwin and Robin Young's Corsair Shanghai Baby, a regular competitor in the region. But the final accolades went to the biggest and newest boat in the division the one year old 'Mojo' owned by Peter Wilcox. Mojo, a Schionning G-Force 15 metre catamaran, was launched by Noosa Marine late last year, going on to take line honours as well as first place in the Offshore Multihull PHRF Division of the Surf to City Race. Among the crew for that race were sailmakers Yancy and Bucky Smith from Doyle Sails Queensland plus boatbuilder Julian Griffiths from Noosa Marine. For the King's Cup, multihull designer Mark Pescott joined Mojo and his tactics helped them pip Stansky's Fantasia for first place.
Fast Fireflies
Attending my fifth King's Cup, I enjoyed the high-speed racing on a chartered Firefly 850. These Phuket built strip planked boats have been a regular fleet for around the last 10 years or so. The King's Cup is a fairly arduous event with early morning starts and long days so crews' have to pace themselves (both on the water and in the bars!) to last the five day competition. The Thursday lay day is welcomed by weary sailors and their families who can enjoy a day trip around the island or a fast boat ride to the world famous Phi Phi Island. My wife and I simply chose to take our scooter around the island, visiting the Big Buddha on the hill and a quiet lunch at Rawai where we watched the kite surfers cavort; followed by a quick shopping trip to Pa Tong and then home to the excellent Kata Thani Hotel for sundowners.
  On the water the starts were exiting and often the best part of our particular Firefly campaign as we won several start lines but our unfamiliar crew and Dacron sails were no match for the eventual winners, defending champion Hans Rahmann's smartly campaigned Voodoo. Racing however was close among the Firefly fleet and our midtable battles with Twin Sharks and Aussie John Spencer's Mamba was exciting. The Thai-built Seacart 26 from the Multihull fleet was often around us, showing similar boatspeed but the Corsair 28 trimaran Shanghai Baby could point higher thanks to its deeper central hull section. Seacart owner Henry Kaye is defector from the Firefly class but confesses he misses the one design action. "But the advantage with the Seacart is that Alexyou can fold it up and take it to other events such as Koh Samui in May," explained the English expat over a beer. The windy conditions in mid-week forced us into sharp kite hoists, nimble tacking and forged our multinational crew into an efficient unit. Working on the bow and daggers kept me busy as did ensuring crew weight was distributed evenly to prevent the Firefly from submarining in the lumpy 25-knot conditions.
  The dismasting of Alan Cawardine's new Stealth 11.8 catamaran Hurricane after only three races was the week's major mishap. From our boat I witnessed its carbon mast gently descend at an angle with shrouds intact as its base slid to puncture the decking. Queensland designer Cawardine's boat spent the rest of the week motoring around minus its McConaghy's made spar. The other major event of every Cup is of course the King's Birthday sail past, an event that involved many Thai navy vessels stretching over the horizon, for the race fleet to salute.
  For the numerous Australians attending there were plenty charter options in both multihulls and monohulls, with Sunsail supplying the bulk of the 23 bareboat fleet. Our boat Blue Noze was rented from Chris Jongerius at Andaman Sea Club Sailing charters, who owns several of the class. Coskippers George Eddings and Tom Alexyou ander are regular Firefly charterers but this was their first King's Cup. "The great thing about the King's Cup is what we've learned by racing our Firefly this week against these other really good Firefly sailors," said the Singapore shipbroker Alexander. The UKbased Eddings is a regular Bay Regatta attendee but the King's Cup is a much higher standard of competition and one he greatly enjoyed, he said. I'd concur, and have enjoyed helming a Firefly last year I'd say they are exciting boats with plenty speed and a crew of only four can race them well. Our one design class ensured close and fast racing – we hit nearly 20 knots on some of the runs which made gybing the kite a do or die experience. The open bridgedeck with trampoline gives plenty room for crew work while the steerer is positioned higher with clear views across the hulls.
Designer chat
  Chatting with Firefly designer Marc Pescott, I asked him about how the class to be developed further, given it was now approaching 10 years old. "One thing we could improve is to fit larger mainsails across the class but I don't want to do anything that will jeopardise the strong one design racing," explained the tall Pescott. Pescott has already designed what could be called a newer Firefly 850, the SpitZfire 8.5, primarily for the New Zealand 8.5 Metre Box Rule. Hull shape is similar to the Firefly but with a 200kg less displacement and unlike the strip planked older boats, is made of foam sandwich.
  Flying the flag strongly for Queensland Andrew Stransky and his family again put on a good show at an Asian regatta. He told me he was very pleased with the winning ways of his home built catamaran which is very beamy. He sailed off to Asia a couple of years ago with the family and enjoys cruising when not competing in the active SE Asia regatta scene. "It's our second King's Cup and the competition is tougher than ever but we love it and really enjoy the passage races," said Stransky. His 13-yearold daughter Mara climbs the mast, works on the foredeck and doesn't want to return to Queensland for school, she told me with a glint in her lovely blue eyes. Who can blame her!