Strong gusts greet racers at 19th Bay Regatta

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Strong gusts greet racers at 19th Bay Regatta
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Strong gusts greet racers at 19th Bay Regatta Strong gusts greet racers at 19th Bay Regatta

The poster says, "Join Thailand's Fun Regatta with 4 days of great racing while visiting four stunning destinations. Fantastic parties and daily prize giving" — and that pretty well sums it up. The 19th Bay Regatta ran true to its hype. Four divisions of six boats each—Racing, Cruising A & B and Bareboats-combined with eight boats from the Multihull class to form the fleet for the 2016 Bay Regatta. Entrants came from as far as Russia (7 boats), Australia, UK, & Canada to compete.

In the final day of racing the Multihulls sailed a 33nm course; the rest of the course sailed a shortened 17nm course out from Ao Nang finishing at Hin Mu Sang Nua.

The Racing class on the final day was won b y Megazip w i t h Emagine a n d Fujin coming in second and third. This meant that Scott Bradley's Emagine emerged victorious overall with Megazip i n second with 9 points and Fujin, featuring the Great Peter Sorenson, coming in third with 13 points. Long-time Bay Regatta Cruising Class winner Neils Degenkolw took fourth on Phoenix and the Fargo Ladies Team, with the sensational Liz Schoch skippering, ended settling for fifth overall even though they did win the first race and Team Ferret came last in the top division, although the Platu battled hard against the bigger boats throughout.

Cruising A honours on the last day went t o Thalassa w i t h Lady Bubbly a n d Remington coming in second and third. This broke Remington's string of three-straight first-place finishes but Jim Ellis' team did still the win the overall title with Tony Bynes' Mohawk coming in second with 11 points and Chris Mitchell's Lady Bubbly finishing third with 13 points. Fourth spot went Thalassa, 5th to Linda and the mysterious Salina came sixth.

What really sets the Bay Regatta apart isn't the parties, the yachts, or the people, but the stunning karst topography of Phang Nga Bay. No other sailing event can lay claim to such a spectacular backdrop.

Cruising B saw Tongfah grab top spot on the final day with Poco and Aqua coming next in line. This enabled Ket Mangklaeseranee's boat, the only all-Thai team in the regatta, to win their division with 8 points, while Kevin Gillow' s Poco, last year's winner, tied Selma with 12 points, but took second overall based on a higher finish on the last day (second). Rate came 4th followed by Aqua and Sanook in this six-boat division.

Strong gusts greet racers at 19th Bay Regatta

It was heartwarming to see the Gillows racing through the water on Poco again, the boat that first brought them to Thailand two decades ago. Last year, they won their division with Kevin helming nine months after suffering a severe stoke.

Bareboat Charters saw Papasha Grizly win for the fourth day straight day—the only the only boat to sweep its class. Little Eva and Sumalee came in second and third on the day. In the overall standings, Papasha Grizly and Little Eva kept those one, two spots, but Kinnon snuck in to take third place, in a class dominated by Russian sailors. Sumalee, Allsail Isabella and Allsail Uhuru came 4th 5th & 6th to round out this division.

Multihulls saw Blue Noze, Asia Catamarans Hurricane come one, two and three. This meant that Java took the overall title with 11 points, Asia Catamarans Hurricane came second with 12 points, and Voodoo was third with 13 points. Twin Sharks was fourth, followed by WOW, Blue Noze, Galeforce, Adrenaline and Allegro.

The regatta features a different anchorage and party every night and the average course is about 20 miles long.

Firefly finishes saw Blue Noze, Voodoo & Twin Sharks finish one, two, three and that's the way the overall standings finished in this tightly fought class, which saw all entrees finish with an 8-point total, but Blue Noze took the crown on two first-place finishes while Voodoo edged out Twin Sharks on the final day to gain second spot.

The thing about the Bay Regatta is that anyone who is anyone in the Phuket Sailing Committee has played a role in keeping this regatta going. Some of those folks sailing the 19th event included PYC Commodore - Scott Duncanson, Mark Horwood & Mick Kealy.

Hands down – the most photogenic and the most fun regatta in Southeast Asia, the Bay Regatta continues to live up its reputation as participants sped past the beautiful karst topography of Phang Nga Bay making their way down from Koh Yao Noi to Ao Nang.

The regatta was started by the Ao Chalong Yacht Club and then taken over by John Everingham and his crew at Artasia for a number of years before reverting back to the stewardship of the ACYC (now the Phuket Yacht Club), who then turned into the very capable hands of Simon James and Kae Wattana whose company Regattas Asia have done a great job of running the event the last four years.

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-so-serious 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.

The regatta leads participants through a course of different anchorages and party venues. 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.

This relaxed sailing experience follows Phuket's famous King's Cup Regatta by two months, contrasting with the serious nature of its bigger brother as many participants sleep aboard their boats as the fleet moves around its four-day circumnavigation of the Bay.

Mark Pescott, the Firefly designer, was seen flying around on Blue Noze, a good reminder that he has won this event eight times (six times on Somersault, once on Sidewinder, and once on Blue Noze). Mark has also sailed in this event 17 of the 19 years it has been held. Other long-time winners participating this year included Neils Degenkolw on Phoenix and Jim Ellis on Remington. The opening night party was held at Chandara Resort & Spa; the second night was held at the Paradise Koh Yao Noi Resort; there wasn't a party on the third night; the fourth's night festivities were held at Aonang Villa Resort; and the final party and prize giving was held at O2 Beach Club in Ao Chalong, as it has been for the last few years.

Regattas Asia is the event organizer and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Yacht Racing Authority of Thailand (YRAT) and the Phuket Yacht Club (formerly the Ao Chalong Yacht Club) are the supporting authorities. Media partners included SEA Yachting, and the Greater Phuket Magazine.

Since its inception in 1998, this regatta has been billed as the "fun" regatta. Nothing's changed; it just keeps getting better.

The chartered committee boat was the 110-yrold Seraph, graciously supplied by Tom Howard and skippered by Bruce Issel. Credit much go to all of Simon James' on-water committee including Chandran, Hugh, Susan, Phil, Jane, Andy, Gigi and Eddie, while Kae Wattana's minions performed admirably making sure all the on-shore activities took place without a hitch.

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the Bay Regatta and organizer Simon James has already said he hopes to return Chong Lat, the home of many classic Bay Regatta parties, and one of the most stunning anchorages in this region.
www.bayregatta.com