Home-towner Gary Baguley scoops Samui Regatta

0
578

Reminiscent of the America’s Cup during the last century, when the challenger was required to actually sail to the venue in Newport, Rhode Island, Pattaya skipper Gary Baguley navigated his sloop, “El Coyote” to Koh Samui from Pattaya, challenged the field, won, and then sailed all the way back to the Ocean Marina in Jomtien.  “Just another week at the office”, said the affable Gary afterwards. 

In the IRC Two Class of the just-finished 13th Koh Samui Regatta, held from My 24-31, Gary racked up six wins in the eight races held for a total of eight penalty points, five points ahead of the all-Thai crew on “Sansiri” helmed by another local sailor, Patinyakorn Buranrom, and 11 ahead of the smallest boat in the fleet, Mick Grover’s “Moon Shadow”.

Gary Baguley and his crew on ‘El Coyote’ captured the IRC Two Class honours at the regatta.Gary Baguley and his crew on ‘El Coyote’ captured the IRC Two Class honours at the regatta.

Regatta manager Simon James decided to incorporate a further sub-division in the IRC Two’s “to give everybody a chance to win a trophy”, and in this latter division Patinyakorn’s Thai team replaced Gary at the head of the leader board.

The award for all class winners at the regatta was a traditional Samui hand-made monkey, fashioned from coconut fibre.  A nice touch, there, Simon!  Of course, one of the regatta founders, John Stall, was at the gala evening, to present another coconut – this time the “Golden Coconut”- an annual award to the person he considers has contributed most to the success of the event.

One very salient feature surrounding this year’s regatta at Samui was that the political climate did not in any way “dampen” the joy, camaraderie and the fun of being in a beautiful place, with one aim: to enjoy this lovely country.

The IRC -Zero Class, the Formula One of the regatta racing circuit, proved to be a deadly competition over the week’s sailing in the light, shifting winds, testing “man and machine” to the limit, with the big names in the Asian racing circuit – Hong Kong’s Neil Pryde, Frank Pong and Sam Chan battling Australia’s Peter Ahern for supremacy.

A delighted Bill Bremner (centre) receives his AYGP jacket and trophy from Captain Marty Rijkuris (right).A delighted Bill Bremner (centre) receives his AYGP jacket and trophy from Captain Marty Rijkuris (right).

Neil Pryde’s “HiFi” (16pts) won out in the closest of finishes, from Frank’s maxi sloop “Jelik” (18) which featured what seemed to be a “cast of thousands” on board.  Perennial top performer, Peter Ahern’s “OI!” finished equal on points with Frank, but was relegated to third place on count-back, with Sam Chan’s “Freefire” well behind in fourth on 27 points.

The IRC One Division generated much interest and featured the closest racing of the regatta, with the sailors vying for several awards and just seconds separating the top three on corrected time.  In fact, the first four overall in the class comprised four nationalities: Bill Bremner (Singapore), Marcel Liedts (Hong Kong), Roland Dane (Aus) and Anthony Root (USA).  Roland Dane’s craft “Jessandra” was registered in Queensland, which most people know is somewhere north of Sydney.  Another fact about this team is that the skipper represents “Red Bull Racing Australia”.

Neil Pryde’s HiFi on its way to the IRC Zero title.Neil Pryde’s HiFi on its way to the IRC Zero title.

But it was all Bill Bremner who was to prove his dominance in the class, complemented by his “Foxy Lady VI” team who won by a mere two seconds from Anthony Root, to also scoop the annual Asian Yachting Grand Prix Sailor of the year and Yacht of the year 2013-2014 awards.  Bill’s success resulted from seven consecutive wins on the Asian racing circuit over the year.  On hand to present the handsome trophy and the winner’s jacket was renowned yachting scribe, Captain Marty Rijkuris.  As Bill donned the winner’s jacket he was amazed, “It’s a perfect fit, Marty”, he said, dodging to protect his precious new attire from a line-squall of champagne which enveloped the stage.

Bremner joins the select company of AYGP winners over the years, including some of the region’s best yachtsmen: Ray Roberts, Neil Pryde, Peter Ahern and Frank Pong, in the yachting “Hall of Fame”.

The splendid awards ceremony and dinner on the final night of the regatta was held on the spacious lawns of the Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui.  Located in Samui’s central area on beautiful Chaweng Beach, the huge crowd of sailors, spectators and supporters, enjoyed the Centara hospitality to the utmost, with superb ‘happy hours’ on the beach at the end of each day’s sailing and also the wonderful sight of Zico’s exotic Brazilian dancers, just to give it a real World Cup feel.  Resort manager Martin Heiniger commented: “Centara is synonymous with the Samui Regatta, having acted as its home base since the very first event in 2002, and we’re very proud to be part of it.”

Foxy Lady VI, winner of IRC One at this year’s Samui Regatta. (Photo by Joyce Ravara/ Samui Regatta)Foxy Lady VI, winner of IRC One at this year’s Samui Regatta. (Photo by Joyce Ravara/ Samui Regatta)

Principal Race Officer Ross Chisholm and his dedicated team had a tough time during the week as they were obliged to juggle courses to deal with the shifting and dying winds.  Courses were shortened when Ross deemed it necessary as he strove to manage two or more races in each class per day, to complete the requirements of the regatta instructions.

Regatta manager Simon James was effusive in his praise of the support of the Surat Thani and Koh Samui officials, namely Chatpong Chatraphuti, Governor of Surat Thai Province and his colleagues in the Office of Tourism and Sports as well as Samui officials, the Mayor, the District Chief Officer and the President of the Samui Tourism Association.

The Samui Regatta, starting with just 11 boats in 2002, now offers a great regatta of international standing, with highly competitive sailing.  The event has now grown into one of the most competitive in Asia and is the final ‘lap’ of the prestigious Asian Yachting Grand Prix.

For a full list of race results, visit the official website at: www.samuiregatta.com.