The 25th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta made an impressive start on Monday, Dec. 5, with a sail past in honour of His Majesty the King on his 84th birthday, which was followed by hot favorites in each Class preparing to deliver their best form.
The sail past ceremony took place to the south of Pu Island at 08:30 where the Royal Thai Navy ships, led by HTMS Chonburi, received salutes from participating vessels. It was the official start for Asia’s most prestigious sailing event, at which more than 1,000 sailors from 35 nations are participating.
The 25th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta fleet sails past HTMS Chonburi in salute of His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday, Monday, December 5. (Photo/Guy Nowell)
The sail past has become a tradition in honour of the Regatta’s Royal Patron, an award-wining sailor who won the gold medal at the 4th South East Asia Peninsular Games (now known as the SEA Games.) “It is another way for us to express our respect for the King,’’ said Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Organising Committee. “The tournament is held at this time of the year because it is an event for the King who loves sailing.’’
In the first of five days of competition, local hopefuls Royal Thai Navy 1, skippered by Wiwat Poonpat, held third place on six points in the IRC 2 class after winning race one and finishing fifth in race two. “We have a better standard than last year even though we have five new crewmen in the team,’’ Wiwat said. “We also made a lot of changes to the vessel which was damaged by storms last year.”
Wiwat added that it was hard to predict the result and that it would be a tough class since there were many good newcomers. Peter Dyer’s Team Kata Rocks stayed top of the table on three points Monday after taking second spot in race one and wining race two.
Fred Kinmonth and Nick Burns of EFG Bank Mandrake continued their form after winning the Raja Muda International Regatta two weeks ago as they took a lead of five points in IRC 1. Despite finishing fourth in race one, they regrouped to win race two.
Japan’s Yasuo Nanamori of Karasu finished the day second on seven points following their race one victory and sixth place finish in race two. Defending champion Matt Allen’s Beneteau First 44.7 had a poor start finishing the day seventh on 14 points.
Phuket King’s Cup President Kevin Whitcraft’s Won Ma Rang remained seventh on 12 points while Jonathan Mahony’s Humphreys 42 Zanzibar was lurking in the wings ready to pounce if the opportunity arises.
In IRC Zero, Hannes Waimer’s Team Premier stayed one point ahead of Sam Chan’s FreeFire, with a second in race one and an improvement to take the win in race two.
In the Firefly 850 Sports class, Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi won both races to take a two point lead over defending champion Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo.
In the hotly contested Multihull Class, Alan Carwardine’s Stealth 12.6 Sidewinder, who recently won at the Raja Muda International Regatta, came in first place after two races taking three points.
In the final day of the International Dinghy Classes, Thailand sailor Patteera Mee-u-Samsen cruised to victory in the Laser Class. The 19-year-old sailor from Chonburi won four out of six races to take the title on 9 points. Second place went to Jittawat Boonrat who was eleven points behind the champion. Chut Dawruang was a point behind in the third place.
“I really enjoyed the race and was happy to win it,’’ said Patteera who also won gold medal in the Optimist Class at the 2007 SEA Games.
In the Optimist Class, the title went to Akapoj Kankeaw of Trang who finished on 11 points, four better than second placed Sutida Poonpat of Chonburi. It was a disappointing result for Sutida who triumphed in four races but suffered a seventh finish in race four and third in race three.
“It is a great finish for me in Optimists before I move up to the Laser Class,’’ said the 15-year-old Akapoj.
Meanwhile, event manager Pornprom Sakultem said the three-day International Dinghy Class series was successful with a large number of skilled local participants. “Our goal is to encourage local involvement and we did it here,’’ he said. “Next year will be bigger and we will have more young sailors.’’