Unseasonally grey skies (heck, people pay good money to come to Phuket at this time of year), and blustery winds coming over the hills behind Kata Beach made for a most unfamiliar-looking opening day for the 30th edition of the Phuket King’s Cup.
Regatta regulars would recognise the usual arrangements – the Racing classes on Course Area A to the west of Nai Harn Bay, and the Cruising divisions due west of Kata Beach on Area B. There’s something stirring out in the Andaman Sea, sucking the air in from the east, and today’s racing on both course areas was conducted in 10-20kts of pleasantly temperate breeze, with a promise of more to come.
It was not a good day for six members of the combined multihull fleets: Java (Mick Coleman / John Coffin) dropped her rig before even the first start, and Hurricane (Alan Carwardine/Joel Berg) followed suit on the first beat. Adrenaline (Mark Horwood), “the boat with the wobbly floats” retired with a broken beam in the same race. Blue Nose (George Eddings) retired from the second race of the day with a split mainsail, Kata Rocks (Shaun Jackson) went home with a reported halyard problem, and OffLine (Dirk Weiblen) retired hurt as well. Still, there’s always a silver lining somewhere, so those departures left the field just that little more open for the remaining competitors.
The good-looking all-carbon 3itch (Daniel Mooreswept up 1, 2 finishes, and Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30, Thor, had a new spring in her step (just like her owner) and produced 3, 1. Henry is one of the select band who sailed the very first King’s Cup in 1987, and has campaigned umpteen boats since then. With Java and Hurricane out of the way, Kirill Stashevskiy’s Galeforce stepped up to the plate and took 4, 3 to finish the day third in the Multihull Racing division.
John Newnham (Twin Sharks) knows his way around a racecourse on a Firefly 850, and proved it with two bullets, closely followed by Hans Rahmann (Voodoo) with two second places. And in the diminutive Pulse 600 class, Neil Ayre (Java Yachting) and Andrew de Bruin (H3O Multihull Solutions) traded the top two places over two races.
The big and muscular Premier Cruisers all enjoy a bit of a blow, and the crew of Peter Cremers’ beautiful Warwick 75, Shahtoosh, were up for it. We saw one crew member standing aft with arms folded as she swept past, but have agreed to name no names. You really can smell the espresso when you get downwind of her. Ithinai Yingsiri’s Pine Pacific traded places with Shahtoosh, and the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Zuhal, fresh from winning the Jugra Cup at the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta, filled in with two third places. On the camera boat, votes for the day’s ‘concours d’elegance’ prize were eventually awarded to Gijs van Liebergen’s King’s Legend; anyone who has ever seen a Swan S&S 65 pass by will know why.
And then there were the Racing divisions on Course A: Ray Roberts (Team Hollywood, TP52, formerly Kodo, formerly Origin) has evidently got his work cut out trying to catch Kevin Whitcraft’s still unnamed TP52, registered as simply “THA72”. In both races for IRC 0 today, the Hollywood honchos hung on to the transom of the super-quick THA72 all the way up the beat, but once round the top mark it was ‘game over, Rover’. Deltas of 2m41s and 2m48s on corrected time tell the story. It’s a shame to see only two boats contesting the top division of the Phuket King’s Cup, but the Regatta Director was left with the unenviable task of calling the splits and with no room to manoeuvre – there’s no point in racing a division of 40-footers against a pair of TP52s.
And so to IRC 1: today was a day for the symmetrical boats, with Yasuo Nanamori’s Karasu, no stranger to the PKC and a past winner here, taking two bullets in front of Yes! Jessandra II being sailed by Adam Gosling. The Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth sprit boat Mandrake III got up for a third place in race one, but had to stand down to Rerefine (Ken Eyears) in the second. This is a 9-boat division, and it would have been 10 on the start line if Mati Sepp’s Blue Note hadn’t gone walkabout (driftabout?) the day before the regatta – no news yet. Given today’s strong offshore breeze, and if you happen to be over near the Andamans, please keep a lookout for a blue racing yacht conducting her own private racing series.
The weather people are promising a lull tomorrow, followed by more breeze: those who remember a few years back when nine boats ended up on Kata Beach will do well to check their ground tackle. Twice.
Full results can be seen at www.kingscup.com
by Guy Nowell