Sailors by nature are patient beasts. Sometimes the wind blows and sometimes it doesn’t, and they raise not a murmur. And as we all know (and non-sailors never seem to understand) you can’t go straight up the middle of the course towards the windward mark. This is all character-forming stuff. However, even sailors’ patience can be tested.
The first day of the 2015 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek was a softy, with all boats leaving the race course after a long wait for a start and just one race completed. The second day was even lighter and flatter (and hotter) with no races run for the IRC 2, Multihull, Firefly, Corsair Pulse and Cruiser classes, and just one consolation quickie for the two TP52s in IRC 1.
The forecast for today was not good: the two main sources of information were offering more of the zero-breeze-over-a-hot-grill variety, and so it was at the beginning of the day. PRO Simon James kindly ordered an AP on shore while he went round the corner to the starting area to sniff out the cats and dogs, and the fleet settled down in the palmy shade in front of the Cape Panwa Hotel’s brand new Bamboo Bar behind the beach. Someone remarked that they had never seen so many clothed bodies sprawled across the greensward. If you can’t actually go sailing, there are a great many less well-appointed places to while away the AP Hours. The iced coffees and the banana shakes were going down a treat – so much so that by the time the breeze started to arrive a little after midday it was almost a surprise that nobody complained that they now needed to get afloat and do something energetic. Torpidity is contagious.
Having sat out on the water since 0900, the RO was very happy to welcome everyone to a massive 5-6 knot breeze, and wasted absolutely no time in getting the racing started.
The day proved to be interesting on many fronts but will likely be remembered for a strong outgoing tide that caused no less than 13 OCS calls during two start sequences, as well as a major challenge at the leeward mark, as boat after boat misjudged the strength (and direction) of the current and tried to sideways-shuffle their way around the mark.
The first race, IRC Racing I, got underway after 13:30 and a clean start saw Oi! (AUS) at the pin and Kodo (AUS) at the Committee Boat. A tacking duel with Kodo covering Oi! up to the top mark ensued. Oi! rounded first and held their lead to the finish. Having to give time to Oi! Kodo had to settle for another second place, but by a substantially improved margin of just 76 seconds. The tables were turned in Race 2 as Oi! were OCS, going back (against the tide) and leaving the gate wide open for Kodo who took full advantage and sailed a clean race to hold their lead on the water and claim the handicap win as well.
In IRC Racing 2, Fujin (AUS) continued their form, winning the start only to lose ground over the course to the smaller Jessandra II (AUS) and Foo 4 (USA). Foo 4 rounded the bottom mark first in Race 1 but were forced wide by the Firefly 850 Advanced Racing Mamba (GBR), making space for Jessandra II whose slick crew work helped make up some time. Fujin, who rounded third, also got caught up in traffic and were similarly pushed wide by the Corsair Pulse 600 SuDu 4 (THA), loosing time on the leaders. Foo 4 went onto the win the Race from Jessandra II with Ruby Tuesday (NZL) in third. Throughout two races in all classes, the bottom mark and the traffic around it proved to be game-changing a good number of boats.
While Fujin nailed the pin end of the line in Race 2, Ruby Tuesday, Foo4, Foreign Affair (AUS) and Old Mutual International Endeavour of Whitby (MAS) were all OCS, turning it into a two-horse race between Jessandra II and Fujin.
At the bottom mark of leg one, Jessandra II had a one boat length lead over Foo 4 who fumbled the mark rounding and allowed Fujin to make up time. This proved critical, with Fujin going on to claim second place on corrected time, two minutes behind Jessandra II who now leads Foo 4 in the class standings by four points with one day to go.
Things are hotting up in the Cruising class. While Krabi Boat Lagoon Piccolo (GBR) held the overnight lead, they were being pushed hard by the Thai crew on Sansiri Windstar (THA) and the all female crew on Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies (AUS).
On the first start today, it was the two Farr 1104s that got the better of the fleet: Krabi Boat Lagoon Piccolo at the Committee Boat end and Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies at the pin. As the class headed back down to the bottom mark the tide had turned it into a short-stay car park. Krabi Boat Lagoon Piccolo came in from the right side of the course and rounded with speed, while Sailescapes Farrgo Ladies came down the middle of the course and struggled to lay the mark, losing time and with it their chance of an upset.
And while the Farr 1104s were battling it out, the day belonged to local hero Patinyakorn “Ging” Buranrom and his crew on Sansiri Windstar who sailed the conditions well and put in a solid performance to take wins in both races and with it, jump to the top of the class standings by a single point.
The Charter/Bareboat class also completed two races today and it was Venture (AUS) who took a comfortable win in Race 1 by almost ten minutes on corrected time, but after being called OCS in Race 2, they struggled to make up the lost time and had to settle for third as Fei Yu (AUS) sailed to their first win of the series.
The Stealth cats enjoyed some close racing today, but OCS for WOW (GBR), Java (CHN) and Image Asia Nina (THA) gifted the Race 1 win to Asia Catamarans Hurricane (AUS). They went on to school the class winning the second race as well. Two from two on the day, and unbeaten in the series.
Elsewhere in the multihull classes, there was some exciting racing between the Firefly 850s. Some very ‘creative’ starting tactics from Twin Sharks (GBR) saw them make the start of Race 1 with seconds – and inches – time to spare, but they went on to sail a near-perfect tactical race and crossed for the win 27 seconds ahead of Voodoo (GER).
Twin Sharks went on to win Race 2 also and with it now lead the series with three wins from three races.
It was a day to forget for Blue Noze! (GBR) who were pushed inside the bottom mark by a charging Advanced Racing Mamba (GBR), only to then t-bone Kantus’ Bride (Cruising class) on their second attempt to round. No damage to either boat, but perhaps some damage to their ego as Blue Noze! finished last in that race. In Race 2, however, they righted some wrongs with a second place finish, just 15 seconds behind the winner, Twin Sharks.
Following an OCS in Race 2 and an ‘entanglement incident’ with the top mark, Ian Coulsen on Voodoo calmly announced their retirement with a phrase that will likely be recorded in the Phuket Raceweek annals, saying “We’re sorry about your mark, but it’s still floating.”
All four Corsair Pulse 600s were out on the start line for the Corsair class and enjoyed the better breeze today.There was some close racing at the top of the division. The team of Andrew DeBruin and Zam Bevan on SuDu 1 scored two firsts while the other podium places were shared between SuDu 3 and SuDu 4.
Simon James and his Race Management team deserve a lot of credit for getting in two races for everyone today, and a big round of applause for demonstrating their stickability in the process. After a tricky first two days, the wind feels to have returned – WindGuru and PredictWind both say so – and the weather forecast is for the best day of racing to wind up the regatta tomorrow.
results at: www.phuketraceweek.com