|Bay Regatta sails for 18th time|
On the final day, good wind allowed PRO Simon James to get in one of the famous spinnakers runs that the Bay Regatta is renowned for as the competitors sailed from the start line off Phi Phi Don to Ao Chalong. Interestingly, committee boat Rendezvous acted as both the start boat, and then racing ahead as the finish boat with the other committee boat Tom Howard's Seraph acting as the gate off of Koh Maiton and eventually the finish line for the Cruising B class.
Adrenaline was first across the line on the final day with a time of 02:25:29, narrowly beating Hurricane (02:25:37) Twin Sharks (02:25:53) and Blue Noze (02:26:58) in a closely-grouped finish.
The much-hyped 40ft trimaran, a Formula 40, had teething problems in last year's regatta and had to withdraw early due to a collision with its support boat Uravai, but this year, it flew—grabbing line honours three times. On handicap Mark Horwood/Merv Owen's boat finished 7th with 23 points, but speed wise it kicked ass.
This year's racing class was won by Roland Dane's Jessandra 11with a total of 5 points; second went to Fergus & Jennifer Wilmer's Foo 4 with 8 points; third to Evegeni Nikforov's First with 13 points; while Mick Tilden's Fujin was fourth with 16 points and Nicolay Vlasov's Tiburon was last with 18 points.
The multihull class saw John Coffin's Java take first overall with eight points. Second spot went to Alan Carwadine's Asia Catamarans Hurricane, who although they tied with Andrew DeBruin's Bullet with 12 points took second spot because of higher placings in their races. Andrew was sailing with his son Fin and Scott Duncanson.
Fourth place also saw a tie between John Newnham's Twin Sharks and Kiril Stashevsky's Galeforce, each with 20 points with the former getting the leg up because of higher race placings. George Eddings' Blue Nose took sixth overall with 22 points and Mark Horwood/Merv Owen's Adrenaline came seventh with 23 points. Last year, Grenville Fordham's Nina beat almost all the Stealths but this year the light wind relegated her to last with 36 points. Danny Moore's 3itch never seemed to find its groove either, coming in second last with 28 points.
On the final day of racing in Cruising A, Niels Degenkolw Phoenix (03:55:30) finished almost an hour ahead of second place Sansiri Windstar helmed by Ging Patinyakorn Buranrom (04:49:57). The only two other boats to finish on the final day in this class were Libby Boyd and the Chinese students from the Krabi Sailing School on Mas Alegre, who came in at 05:38:33, and Dominic Buchholz's Venus Hunter who finished at 06:14:41.
Venus Hunter won the "persistence award" on the final day; drifting backwards, dangerously close to the reef on Koh Maiton, on the opposite side of the white buoy forming the gate with committee boat Seraph, they continued to drift and drift much to the exasperation of the committee, only to finally right themselves and then sail back around the buoy, cross the finish line properly and grab 4th place in Cruising A with an elapsed time of 06:14:41. Linda, also in Cruising A, was caught drifting backwards parallel to Venus Hunter for a while, but the captain in his Scottish brogue declared he would fight another day and withdrew from the race leaving Venus Hunter to fight her way back solo. In Bay Regatta history, no one captain, or boat, has won its class more often than Niels Degenkolw Phoenix and they did it again capturing Cruising A with 4 points; Sansiri Windstar was next with five; Mas Alegre was third with ten; Venus Hunter was fourth with 14; Linda fifth with 17 and Allsail Uhuru and Sailom finished tied for sixth with identical records at 20 points each.
Cruising B class saw the Gillows on Poco sweep all three of their races taking first place overall. The regatta's "courage award" went to Kevin Gillow, who after suffering a stroke last year, made a remarkable comeback to win this class with just his charming daughter Mia as the only other crew member.
Meg Wehrle's Aqua and Kevan & Sheila Perrins' Oyster 435 Rusalka ended up tied with eight points, but Aqua took second based on two second-place finishes. Fourth went to Steve Johnson's Bonobo (13 pts); Sergei Dikanov's Rate was fifth (17 pts); and sixth spot went to Rob Devlin's SY Ravensong (06:07:49), with Toot Yai fittingly bringing up the rear (23pts).
On the final day, Toot Yai finished at Phuket's Boat Lagoon, forgetting to notify the race committee leaving a few on the finish line scratching their heads and wondering where she went. Committee members had also given up on Bonobo, but she stuck it out finally appearing over the horizon and crossing the finish line last just before the 3:30pm cut-off time with an elapsed time of 06:32:40.
A channel race, this regatta took place over four days. It kicked off March 5th with an opening night party at Chandara Resort & Spa (www.chandara-resort.com) near Ao Po Marina. Racing started the next day as yachts headed out in the direction of Koh Yao Noi, stopping in at the Paradise Koh Yao Boutique Resort & Spa (www.theparadisekohyao.com) for the evening's party. On the second day out the fleet set sail in light wind and headed for the P.P. Erawan Palms Resort on Phi Phi Don (www.pperawanpalms.com), the site of the second night's party. For the third day of racing, the yachts sailed around the Phi Phi Islands with the evening's party being staged by Arayaburi/Bayview Resort Phi Phi (www.arayaburiphiphi.com). The final day of racing, saw competitors head back to Ao Chalong from Phi Phi, where upon finishing the regatta participants celebrated with a big bash and the final awards ceremony at the 02 Beach Club in Ao Chalong (www.o2beachclub.com).
The Bay Regatta was founded by a photographer (John Everingham) and friends (Chris Schaefer and Andy Stephens). Everingham, a long-time Phuket King's Cup Regatta committee member, was motivated in part by frustration at the annual struggle over setting that regatta's courses. On the one hand, he wanted to shoot the fleet of sails contrasted against the dramatic scenery. The hard-core sailors, on the other hand, wanted their boats as far away from land as possible to avoid fickle winds. Dramatic photos would attract more sponsors, argued the photographer; but the sailors always won. So the stymied lensman rounded up some like-minded friends and established a regatta designed to sail among the dramatic limestone island towers and mainland forests of the waters off Phuket's east coast. The problem was that some time the courses would go too deep into the Bay, where the wind she didn't blow. So when the ACYC gained control over the regatta a couple years back a compromise was worked out between beautiful scenery and good sailing courses.
In the deep channels between the spectacular, vertical rock walls, the Bay Regatta's philosophy of fun-amidst-beauty shone through for all to see. The hallmark of this event is a casual, fun-filled atmosphere. Many friends join together to sail the four-day event and while the sailing is serious for many racing class yachts, a large number of cruisers join for the experience of sailing through some of the world's most amazing maritime scenery.
Sailing scribe Kate Hubert has described the regatta thus: "The PNBR has always attracted cruising yachties – those who have abandoned the rat race and traded the bricks-and-mortar for a life afloat. So in addition to the toned bodies of the young race crews, there were also many retirees in the race. The tortoises, who carry their homes with them, may not look as shiny as the racing hares, but sometimes they finish ahead of the presumed front-runners. "
The oracle of Southeast Asian sailing Captain Marty once noted this regatta's distinction, "Why does this regatta have a reputation for being the 'Fun Regatta' compared to the usual 'gung ho' racing events that we have grown accustomed to? Well you only have to take a look around the moored yachts. There are families with children bonding together, groups of old friends, drinking buddies reacquainting themselves, familiar racing crews and foreign charter guests sharing the experience with some old-fashioned camaraderie. If you are going to spend so much money on a boat it's good to see the owners fully utilize the vessel for what it is designed to be used for.
"Instead of racing for a couple hours and going home, be prepared to live aboard for four days and use the galley, toilet and inbuilt luxury interior for what it's worth. At the same time, the crew can develop some seamanship qualities and other boat handling skills not found on the race course. Make no mistake though, whether it's a racing or cruising boat, monohull or multihull the racing element is alive and well. When the starting signal sounds it is sheet on and go for it. After the racing, it's off to the overnight anchorage area and prepare for another prize-giving party at some of the finest resorts on offer in Thailand. Then get ready to do it all again the next day. To get through it all, calls for an exercise in endurance."
Congratulations to Simon James and Kae Wattana and their hard-working and cheerful team for keeping the tradition of the Fun Regatta alive and well. Andy Dowden and Claire Mossup did a great job MCing their respective awards' presentation nights as well.
The regatta is more famous for the spectacular settings of its courses and parties than the sense of sailing triumph, and continues to evolve while maintaining its original brief – to bring the joys of sailing right into the midst of the spectacular environments that surround Phuket.
It appeals to the serious, the not-soserious and the not-at-all-serious "racing" sailors, combining spectacular natural scenery with lively parties and some sail boat racing. The region's yachting community visits three of Thailand's most scenic provinces in four days of racing and five days of partying.
Camaraderie and fun are cornerstones of the event and as participants end up reliving each day's sailing with post-race beverages and lively conversation followed by a casual dinner, a prize-giving ceremony and entertainment on shore. Host sponsors for the regatta were the Chandara Resort & Spa, the Paradise Koh Yao Beach Resort & Spa, the Arayaburi Boutique Resort, the Bay View Resort, the PP Erawan Palms Resort and the O2 Beach Club.
Regattas Asia was the event organizer and The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Yacht Racing Authority of Thailand (YRAT) and the Ao Chalong Yacht Club (ACYC) are the supporting authorities. Local supporters included B&G, Canvas Creations, Electrical Marine, Quantum Sails, Octopus Electrical Services, Krabi Boat Lagoon, Phuket Boat Lagoon and SY Seraph. The official media partners are SEA Yachting and the Greater Phuket Magazine. While regatta partners included Asahi, Asia Catamarans, Haad Thip, Jungceylon, Mont Clair, Singha Light, Neil Pryde and the Mangosteen.