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MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
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MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek

The hard work put in by Byron and Rung Jones and their team at Media Business Services guaranteed that despite the lack of wind the thirteenth running of the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek (CPHPR) would be a success. Four nights of fantastic beachside parties followed the racing that PRO Simon James could fit in between lulls.For our summary of CPHPR 2016, we turn toreports from the esteemed journalist Duncan Worthington.

Day One

Perseverance and patience were the skills in most demand on Day 1 of the 2016 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek as Principal Race Officer Simon James and his on-water team tracked around Chalong Bay and surrounds in search of wind. It was testing and trying for the record 47 boat fleet and 500+ sailors. As 14:00 approached, the PRO set a course and at 13:54 the Firefly 850 Sport class was underway. Light winds meant a single windward/leeward for all and everybody's patience paid off as all classes got ina full race put the first scores on the board. Kudos to the PRO and team. In the one-design Firefly 850 Sport class first blood went to former champion Voodoo, helmed by Ian Coulson, who got the better of 2015 winner John Newnham's Twin Sharks. Just two seconds separated third and fourth with George Eddings' Blue Noze edging out Neil Ayre's Advanced Racing Mamba.

In the Corsair class, made-up of four identical Corsair Pulse 600s, Pixalux, skippered by Mick Tilden, showed the entire fleet a clean pair of heels winning by over six minutes. It was much closer for second and third with the Chinese/ Thai team on Phuket Island Radio placing second ahead of Zam Bevan's team on Multihull Solutions H30 in third.

Nine boats in Multihull Racing made for the joint largest class in the regatta and the first win went to Asia Catamarans Hurricane finishing just 17 seconds ahead of sister-Stealth Cat Java. The larger Stealth, Top Cat, held onto third ahead of the fast finishing Galeforce RAirlines, skippered by Patinyakorn Buranrom.

In the keelboat fleet, the TP52s of Millenium Racing and Oi! were evenly-matched tracking each other around the course, and it was Ray Roberts and crew on Millenium Racing who took the first win of the series in IRC Racing I.

David Dimmock's Swan 42 Loco won the first race in IRC Racing II by a mere nine seconds. Second place went to the Sydney 40 Emagine skippered by Scott Bradley and with a strong team of Thai sailors on board. On his first outing on his new boat, Ben Copley sailed Gust (ex-KukuKERchu) to third ahead of Fujin, the first of the four Beneteaus that make up the rest of the class. Ian Lodewyckx/Keith O’Donnell's Farr 30 Foreign Affair corrected out 18 seconds ahead of the? Ton X-yacht Phoenix skippered by Niels Degenkolw in IRC Racing III, while the Farr 1104 Piccolo of Rex Hollyoake/Troy Scott managed third.

In spite of the tricky conditions, the racing was close throughout the fleet and no more was this true than in the Cruising/Charter class where five seconds was the winning margin. Venture claimed the win ahead of BeauXEsprits and just over 30 seconds back was the ever-slippery S&S 42 Remington. Returning to a Phuket regatta for the first time in many years was the one-design Platu class. Referred to as “Absolute One Design”, the five Platus are identical, racing with controlled sails provided by the class organizers and it was Australian Liz Schoch on Phuket Boat Lagoon Fox who put the first win on the board ahead of Clement Lim's Phuket Boat Lagoon Weasel and Kev Scott's Absolute One Design, who finished second and third respectively.

Day Two

It was a leisurely morning for the sailors on day two of CPHPR. With the AP on shore, sailors enjoyed the 5-star beachfront facilities of Cape Panwa Hotel and the Bamboo Bar, which was the place to be and be seen, while the Race Management team were out bright and early in search of wind. A little after midday PRO Simon James spied some wind and the start boat set anchor. At 12:45, AP was down and the competitors made it out to the race course. In light breeze the fleet were sent on a short windward/leeward and as the breeze built a second race was started and finished for all while the Cruising/Charter class were sent home after their first race.

No quarter was given between the evenly-matched TP52s contesting IRC Racing I and with Millenium Racing drawing first blood yesterday, the tables were turned and the syndicated Oi! corrected out less than 30 seconds ahead in Race 1. Race 2 was even closer – an eight second winning margin for Millenium Racing sees them hold a slim one-point lead at the half way point.

The first race in IRC Racing II was a carbon copy of the first day: Loco, Emagine and Gust. Just as thing sappeared to following some pre-ordained script, Loco fell off the pace in Race 2 and finished third, shaking up the series. Emagine took their first win and Gust placed second leading to a two-way tie at the top between Loco and Emagine going into the final two days.

Niels Degenkolw and his crew on Phoenix found their rhythm and scored two firsts to move to the top of IRC Racing II. A 3,2 placing for Foreign Affair kept them in the hunt and second overall, while Sailescapes Farrgo Express sat third overall with a 2,4 placing. A single race for the Cruising/Charter class saw local stalwart, Jim Ellis, and his crew on Remington secure their first win of the series and with it tie the top with BeauX Esprits. First day winner Venture slipped to fourth in today'srace but manage to hold onto third overall with still plenty to play for.

It was close racing in the One Design Platu class asthe five entries tracked each closely around the course. The big mover was Clement Lim whose SMU Singapore crew scored two bullets allowing them to go two points clear in the series. A 2,3 placing for the all-female crewlead by Liz Schoch, was enough to hold onto second overall while Kev Scott's Absolute One Design team sit in third.

MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek

Asia Catamarans Hurricane extended their lead in Multihull Racing adding two more wins to their total. Despite making it look easy, just nine seconds separated them and sister-ship Java in Race 2 and with three second places for Java so far they sit second overall and Top Cat, despite their fifth place finish in the last race today,held onto third in the series.

Twin Sharks returned to their winning ways in the Firefly 850 Sport class adding two bullets to their second yesterday and with it go top of the leaderboard. A 2,3finish for Voodoo was enough for them to hold onto second overall ahead of Blue Noze.

The Corsairs of Multihull Solutions H30 and SuDu4 (Yellow) traded places each scoring a second and third, but the day went to Mick Tilden and crew on Pixalux whose two wins, including a seven-minute winning margin in Race 2, made them undefeated in the seriesthus far.

Despite the light winds and tricky racing conditions,completing two races today for most classes gets the series back on track and due credit goes to the Race Management team.

Day Three

After a short delay when the PRO kept the fleet onshore, the AP went down at 09:45 and the fleet headed out to a start-line off Lone Island for the third day of racing. Some of the best wind-strengths of the regatta so far greeted the sailors but with 180 degree swings it turned into a tactical lottery and for almost 100m on their start approach the Cruising/Charter class were flying spinnakers expecting a downwind start.

PRO Simon James made the most of the better breeze to send the fleet on a longer course today with IRC Racing I, Multihull Racing and Firefly 850 Sport off around Bon Island while the rest rounded a mark set just before. The softening wind and huge wind shifts, however, became too much and after their respective island/markroundings, all classes were sent directto the finish – a single race for all classes. Having shared the spoils in IRCRacing I on day two, day three’s singlerace was won by some clever tacticalsailing from Ray Roberts and crew onMillenium Racing, who despite racingthe older of the two TP52s, lead Oi!around the course to claim the dailydouble and establish a two point leadat the top.Emagine continued where theyleft off in IRC Racing II adding asecond bullet to their series tally, andwith that moved above Loco in theoverall standings. Loco finishedsecond on the day while the Beneteau44.7 Fujin out-performed the rest ofthe class over the longer distance andscored their first podium, third place.

Having to start the second racelate yesterday due to the wind meantthat some of the IRC Racing III fleetfinished after the stated time in theSailing Instructions, and were thus given FPA (FinishingPlace Awarded). For Phoenix, that meant a three-pointscore due to finishing less than a minute after the officialcut-off. It didn't, however, hamper the crew's spirit as theybounced back today with a seven-plus-minute win oncorrected time from Sailescapes Farrgo Express in second– their second podium of the series – and the Farr 30, Foreign Affair, in third.

In the One Design Platu class it was all change atthe top as Clement Lim and his crew on Phuket Boat Lagoon Weasel, had to settle for third. The day’s win wentto Kev Scott's Absolute One Design who lead around the course to finish exactly 11 minutes ahead of its nearest competitor, the all-female crew on Phuket Boat Lagoon Fox lead by Liz Schoch.

Picking the shifts and getting a few breaks saw a shake-up to the leaderboard today and in Multihull Racing the consistently second-placed Java, read the conditions best and after more than two-and-a-half hours of racing, won by a 50 second margin on corrected time from Top Cat in second, relegating series lead Asia Catamarans Hurricane to third on the day.

The Japanese crew on Mil Grace in the Firefly 850 Sport class sailed strong to finish third and knock some of the regulars off the podium but John Newnham and his crew on Twin Sharks showed their class in all conditions to dominate the race. Second place went to Voodoo who remained in the hunt with one day to go. The one-design Corsair Pulse 600's sailed to script with Pixalux, SuDu 4 (Yellow) and Multihull Solutions H30 one, two, three, again.

MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek Final Day

After three days of challenging conditions and tough racing, the sailors were looking for a final day bang, however, PRO Simon James and team left the sailors onshore as they headed off in search for wind, which turned into a search for the proverbial needle in a haystack. It was never found. While the sailors enjoyed the hospitality of the Bamboo Bar, cooled off in the sea and beachfront pool, racing for the day was called off at 12:55.

Two wins in the last two races of the series for Ray Roberts and Millenium Racing was enough for them to secure a two-point winning margin in IRC Racing I. On the windward/leeward courses there was little between the two, just seconds at times, while Roberts and crew appeared to have the edge on Oi! over distance.

MBS delivers superb Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek

One more race would have brought the drop into play and for IRC Racing II this could have changed everything. It never happened and third place for David Dimmock and Loco in Race 3 of the series was their downfall, allowing Scott Bradley's Emagine to take top spot by a single point. Third place went to Ben Copley in his first outing on his new boat Gust (ex KukuKERchu).Of the four Beneteaus in the class Fujin placed highest, beating Richard Barnhurt's Balance on countback.

There was controversy in IRC Racing III on Day 2 when three of the five-strong fleet couldn't finish by the stipulated time in the second race of the day, resulting in FPA for those boats and three points awarded to Phoenix. Redress requested by the Race Committee saw the Protest Committee award Phoenix FPA and one point, while the two finishers Foreign Affair and Moon Smile remained scored at first and second, respectively. As often is the case, everything comes out in the wash, and with no drop race in the frame, Phoenix still won the class. Foreign Affair held onto second and Sailescapes Farrgo Express held off the challenge from Moon Smile to claim third.

After a slow start to the series in the Cruising/Charter class, Jim Ellis and his enthusiastic crew on Remington found their speed and finished the series with a 3,1,1 score-line and take out the title by a single point from BeauX Esprits, with Venture placing third.

Despite a third in the last race of the series for Singaporean Clement Lim and his Singapore Management University team on Phuket Boat Lagoon Weasel, they won the One Design Platu class by a single point from the all-female team on Phuket Boat Lagoon Fox with Absolute One Design in third.

Four wins and a third in the final race was enough for Alan Carwardine’s Asia Catamarans Hurricane to defend his Multihull Racing class title from a fast finishing Java skippered by John Coffin, while Peter Wood and his Top Cat placed third.

In the Firefly 850 Sport John Newnham’ Twin Sharks defended his title in style dominating the class with a 2,1,1,1 while Voodoo, skippered by Ian Coulson, comfortably placed second ahead of George Eddings’Blue Noze in third.

The only skipper in the fleet to keep a clean sheet this week was Mick Tilden on Pixalux who sailed a flawless series on his Corsair Pulse 600 in the Corsair Class. Charles Robinson on SuDu 4 (Yellow) got the better of a tie on points with Zam Bevan’s Multihull Solutions H30 to secure second place. Credit goes to the duo of Jiamin Qu and Watcharich “King” Aebi – a 15-year-old Thai boy – who placed second in the first race of the series only to fall off later and finish fourth overall.

CPHPR welcomed a record fleet of 47 boats, with a growing number of sailors coming from around the world to charter a boat and compete. Also encouraging was the number of Thai sailors taking part, making up 20% of the fleet this year. While the fickle wind made it tough for all, the onshore facilities and services were, as usual, excellent. The parties lived up to their reputation while the Race Management team did an excellent job in trying circumstances. www.phuketraceweek.com.