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24 May 2005, 12:08 pm
'Hard Work In Paradise'
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Koh Samui Regatta 2005
Koh Samui, Thailand

The first race of the 2005 Koh Samui Regatta in Thailand was sailed yesterday and Principal Race Officer David BROOKES sent the fleet north from Chaweng Beach to Koh Phangan.
The full course was 24 miles around Ko Kong OK rock, around a marker buoy off Koh Phangan and back to Chaweng Beach.

The Grand Prix Racing division featured a colourful spinnaker start.

Frank PONG's 76 footer Jelik started close to the Committee boat with Sam CHAN's Ffree Fire below her in close company with Toby O'CONNELL's Yo! Down at the pin end, tactician Steve MCCONAGHY positioned Ulumulu for a fast run towards the beach.

Within ten minutes it was clear that Ulumulu was sailing in more pressure than the others, as she ran north. Out wide Jelik was first to find a wind hole and she stalled. Then it was Ffree Fire's turn. Somehow Richard MERRIWEATHER helming Yo! managed to tip toe round her larger rivals.

As the wind swung to the north, Ulumulu dropped her spinnaker and under a light jib she cleared Ko Kong OK rock and tacked north in good pressure, leading the fleet.

For a while it looked like Frank PONG was taking his entire Jelik crew to the Full Moon party last night, as the maxi struck north towards the Haad Rin Nok beach end of Koh Phangan.

Jelik tacked west and crossed some 20 boat lengths behind Ulumulu but as the pressure increased a little, Jelik accelerated along the island shoreline and sailed through her smaller rival. She rounded the top mark four minutes ahead of Ulumulu, set up for a line honours win, but clearly well behind her smaller rival on handicap.

A fast spinnaker hoist and the red, black and yellow of the Sarawak emblem soon brightened the sky.

Next in the fleet was Ffree Fire, Hocux Pocux 2 and then Yo!.

Well known Australian yachtsman Ray ROBERTS is helming Ulumulu, which is named after the Mulu National Heritage Caves and proudly shows the Sarawak star on her bow. ROBERTS is very familiar with the yacht as he campaigned the Sydney 46 as ABN Amro.

The yacht is now owned by Troy YAW and the mainly local team, sailing out of the Miri marina, are emerging as Malaysia's leading racing class competitor.

With the breeze now softening, race officials shortened the course finishing the first division at Ko Kong OK rock.

After the race, back at the Regatta bar, ROBERTS was all smiles. 'Today's race was hard work in Paradise. We made a plan about 30 minutes before the start to run up the coast, with more breeze and it worked.'

'There was a tricky breeze, we really had to work. Actually the swim after the race made it a great day.'

Event Media. Image, Ulumulu shows her colours:© Guy Nowell
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