The Kingdom Property Matchrace Thailand Championships, hosted by the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya from March 14-16, is the premier event of its kind in SE Asia. In near perfect sailing conditions, 11 international teams were prepared to race, each vying for the title and all important ranking points.
The venue was as usual in front of the Beach Bar allowing the spectators to see the close dual between the skippers. Often the racing can be fierce if not aggressive, trying to forfeit the opponent into a mistake using advantageous tactics.
The top ranked skippers and crews pose on the podium at Royal Varuna Yacht Club.
The organisers supplied well suited boats, identically matched Platu 25 class yachts each fast, maneuverable and ready for battle.
Spectators were treated with a wealth of top name skippers taking part including Bjorn Hansen of Sweden ranked worldwide no.3 and the best Matchracers from respective countries Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, India and Thailand. It promised to be a competitive event.
A round robin series with 55 sailing matches occupied days 1 and 2 with skippers racing against each other to decide the rankings before the semi-finals, expertly organised by the Race Committee team. Jeremy Koo (MAS) and Gunwoo Park (KOR) each won 8 races, and only losing 2. Not far behind were Singapore’s Maximilian Soh and Justin Liu, still winning an impressive 7 races to secure the last two spots in the semi-finals. Jon Eriksson (FIN) and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) both missed out of the semis by 1 point, coming 5th and 6th positions respectively.
Competing crews were matched off in Platu 25 class yachts.
The semi-final spots were agreed and after a toss of the coin to decide the boat allocation, Jeremy Koo was to race against Justin Liu. In match racing, the winner of the round robin gets to choose their opponent. Perhaps a bad idea as Justin beat Jeremy 2-0 to reach the final. Semi-final 2 between Maxi and Gunwoo was a much tighter affair with each skipper winning a race in the best-of-three contest. Maxi then won the pre-start dual to round each mark in first position in the decider, ultimately securing his spot in the final.
A grudge match race awaited in the finals between two very competitive Singaporean teams, Maximilian Soh and the young Justin Liu in a best of three series. In a dying wind, the more experienced match racer Maxi got the better of his compatriot, winning the final 2-0 and ultimately taking the title.
The prize giving ceremony awaited with RVYC’s Commodore Dave Littlejohn thanking the sponsors Kingdom Property and Ocean Sunglasses, and all the volunteers making the event into such a spectacle. Maxi gracefully took the honors and in doing so, sprayed Champagne F1 style over his fellow skippers.
The racing was fiercely contested throughout the weekend.