Pattaya Mail PC Classic Challenge sets the stage for a great Multihull Festival


The First Pattaya International Multihull Festival was raced off the host club, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in South Pattaya last week and it was an outstanding success.  60 craft representing 16 countries from as far apart as Aruba to Australia, Netherlands to New Zealand came to join a large Thai contingent for a week of fierce, competitive racing, good camaraderie and fun-filled shore activities at Varuna’s sea-side bar.

And it was a green regatta, with no flotsam and jetsam left in the wakes and even a daily copious free flow of Heineken Beer had a “green theme”, being dispensed by the beautiful Heineken girls dressed resplendently in their green attire.

The fastest crew of Xander and Marc Pols receive the inaugural Peter Cummins PC Classic Perpetual Trophy.The fastest crew of Xander and Marc Pols receive the inaugural Peter Cummins PC Classic Perpetual Trophy.

A highlight of the festival was the Pattaya Mail-sponsored race day which consisted of two events: a regular windward-leeward course, set out in the bay, off the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and the “Island Record Race” which will be an identical course each year, allowing an annual challenge to the inaugural record set this year, by the fastest beach-launched catamarans in existence.

The Pattaya Mail, voted the best English language newspaper in the region for the past 12 years, had agreed to sponsor the Pattaya Mail PC Classic Challenge, Race Day on Sunday, 5 February, as a major feature of the Multihull Festival, extending from 3–10 February.

This represented a welcome return by the Mail and its associated media, the Pattaya Blatt, the Chiengmai Mail and PMTV, to sponsoring the burgeoning marine-related activities along Pattaya’s Eastern Seaboard.  Since 1995, the Mail has strongly supported yacht-racing, held off the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, through the then annual Pattaya Mail PC Classic, proceeds from which were disbursed to the needy–children, elderly and disadvantaged citizens of the Eastern Seaboard.

Now, for this special event, the Mail resurrected the original “Map of Tasmania” trophy, to become known as the 15th Pattaya Mail PC Classic Challenge Perpetual Trophy.

The group was so diverse, with such a variety of multihulls, ranging from the super-fast Thai-built Viper F-16s, to the more conventional Hobie Cats, that the race management committee divided the fleets into White and Yellow Divisions, comprising 36 and 24 craft, respectively, allowing handicaps to be applied to level the playing field, somewhat.

The large Dutch team dominated the Whites, with Caroljn Brouwer, partnered by Aussie Brett Goodall (Viper F-16), taking the top honours, while perennial Hobie Cat champions Thailand brothers Damrongsak/Kitsada Vongtim from Sattahip, cleaned out the Yellow Division.

The aforementioned Dutch/Aussie combination of Carolijn Brouwer/Brett Goodall team also won overall title ahead of brothers Xander and Marc Pols from Holland in a Nacra F20, but the runners-up had earlier in the regatta captured the 15th Pattaya Mail PC Classic Perpetual trophy.  It was an interesting acquisition for the pairing, knowing that it was Dutch explorers who discovered Tasmania in 1642.  Now, they take away the trophy map, cut from Tasmanian native timbers – a timely memento of the land their forebears discovered some 350 years ago.

A selection of the winners is documented separately in this report, but if there is one outright winner of the multihull festival it is Pattaya’s image, with the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, playing a key role.

The wind god, Varuna, in the Hindu Parthenon of pre-Vedic times, was the supreme “Lord of the cosmos, ruler of the oceans and the winds”.  For some weeks prior to International Multihuill Festival, there was virtually no wind, rain storms and dull skies.  Then, as some 60 multihulls descended upon the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in South Pataya, from various parts of the world, it appeared that the god Varuna also arrived.  The skies cleared, the south-westerly Monsoon blew in – and stayed for the duration of the regatta, creating perfect conditions.

Some of the more- sophisticated craft would have benefitted from stronger winds, but an overall daily average of some 15–20 knots, with superb race management and fair, competitive courses satisfied all.

It is little wonder that the visitors, particularly those from Northern climes, were exuberant, as the temperatures in their home countries hovered around minus 16-20 C.

Sponsors have also been most enthusiastic about the event which promotes Pattaya, according to some of the international contingent of experienced sailors, “as one of the finest sailing venues in the world.”  The Royal Netherlands Embassy, naturally, with so many Dutch competitors, supported their own champions, the Pattaya Mail Media Group is always, as noted above, in the vanguard of promoting our city-by-the-sea, the Sattahip-based Chilli Works, building the high-tech A Class Catamarans, right here on the Eastern Seaboard and Heineken Beer and Zweterleven, all supporting the regatta.

The committee boat all decked out for the event.The committee boat all decked out for the event.

Gareth Owen also brought in a team of Dart 18 sailors from the Dee Sailing Club in Mersyside UK, to swell the ranks of the participants.

There was much focus on the F16 class due to the expectation by many that an F16 will be chosen as the new Olympic class in 2016 and already top sailors with an eye on Olympic glory are pushing the limits in their quest for success.

In fact the F16 was the most competitive of all the classes racing and was the first open F16 class, sailed mainly with a mixed team (man/ woman) ever to race in Asia.  F16 competitors such as Coen de Koning from Holland, a double World champion in the Formula 18 class, Carolijn Brouwer also from Holland who is a three times Olympic competitor and tornado world champion, Gunnar Larsen from Holland, Jason Waterhouse, Bret Goodall from Australia and Chris Sproat from the UK also feature as top 10 finishers from previous F18 worlds.

Sailors get their briefing from the race officer.Sailors get their briefing from the race officer.

Twenty-three entries made up the F18 class, mostly from Holland and Thai sailors, making it the largest class at the festival, with 11 Pattaya entries among that group.

Very high level entries in the Dart 18 Class included Gareth Owen, a Pattaya based sailor who is a former world Dart 18 champion and Ian and Fiona Kernick, reigning world champions from South Africa.

First-class race management was assured by a British team, led by principal race officer Neil Dunkley, with able assistance from another Neil (Whitehead) and Malcolm Humphreys out there on the race course, while yet another Neil (Semple) headed up the international jury, with much land-based activity from official scorer Chris Dando and management assistance from Norma Humphreys and, of course, the staff of Royal Varuna.

A drop of the good stuff always helps after a day’s sailing.A drop of the good stuff always helps after a day’s sailing.

According to the principal organizer, Pattaya-based catamaran builder, John Higham, this inaugural event is to be held annually and, says John, “will become Asia’s largest multihull regatta by next year”.  The aim, apart from promoting this visually-exciting form of yacht racing, will also be to create a high profile of Pattaya as a prime venue for water-based activities and marine sports for the city-by-the-sea.

And the verdict: to a man, woman and child, those who came from far and wide to take part in this inaugural event will want to come again to our beloved sea-shore – soon!

Peter Cummins (center) stands next to the trophy table with Anders Wid้n (left) and Peter Malhotra, MD Pattaya Mail Media Group (right). Peter Cummins (center) stands next to the trophy table with Anders Wid้n (left) and Peter Malhotra, MD Pattaya Mail Media Group (right).

Royal Varuna Yacht Club – a hive of activity on race day.Royal Varuna Yacht Club – a hive of activity on race day.

(Above) The 15th PC Classic category winners receive their awards.The 15th PC Classic category winners receive their awards.

Heineken Happy Hour went down a treat.

Heineken Happy Hour went down a treat.

Sundowners at the tropical beach bar.Sundowners at the tropical beach bar.

1st Pattaya International
Multihull Festival Results
(Yellow Division)
1st Damrongsak Kitsada Vongtim
2nd Po.1 Teerapong/Whatcharpong
3rd Alan/Fiona Kernick
4th Gary Baguley/Araya Peampibul
5th Chulapong /Kamolwan Chanyim
6th Nicolette Van Gorp/Ruud Van Gisbergen
1st Gareth Owen/Bobby Friefel
2nd Dick Ganseman/Diane Rokx
3rd Robbie Vogelenzang/Astrid Abendroth
Nacra 16 Sq:
1st Jan Holdorrf
2nd Alberto Cassio
(White Division)
Viper F-16:
1st Caroljn Brouwer/Brett Goodall
2nd Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin
3rd Adrian Fawcett/Jesse Dobie
4th Chris Sproat/Georgina Bourke
Nacra F-20:
1st Xander/Marc Pols
2nd Guillaume Laberenne/Jean-Richard Minardi
3rd Alex Skaria/Peter Herning
Nacra infusio:
1st John Moret.Frank de Woord
2nd Remco/Marielle Remeijer

Pattaya Mail PC Classic Challenge sets the stage for a great Multihull Festival