The largest boat in this racing class is one of Frank PONG's fleet of racing boats, Jelik. The Reichel Pugh 76 was formerly owned by Roy DISNEY and named Pyewacket. Jelik is a full-time competitor on the Asian regatta circuit, and has competed in the China Coast Regatta (Hong Kong), Hong Kong-Hainan Race, China Sea Race (Hong Kong - Philippines), Koh Samui Regatta, Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta, the Manila-Boracay Race, President's Cup (Philippines), and the King's Cup.
Paul WINKELMANN's TP52 Fling was previously Bambakou. She was shipped to Hong Kong for the 2006 RHKYC China Coast Regatta in which she placed second. Then she won the Hong Kong-Vietnam Race immediately afterwards gave her the points to win China Coast Race Week 2006 overall.
Sam CHAN's second Ffree Fire, this TP52 arrived in Hong Kong from San Francisco this summer (2006). Formerly Flash, she is one of the 'first generation' TPs which were designed specifically as a one-design class for the TransPac Race (Los Angeles-Hawaii).
Ffree Fire 52 was fitted with a new rig in Hong Kong, and competed in the 2006 China Coast Regatta, scoring well down the list ('we were all trying to find our feet', said one crew member) sailing much better in the last race, beating the other TP52, Island Fling, on the water, but being called OCS after failing to 'go back' completely.
In the 2006 Vietnam Race Ffree Fire suffered serious mast damage early in the race and limped in to Nga Trang. Quick repairs in Singapore by a team flown in by Sparcraft mean that Ffree Fire 52 is back in the hunt - albeit with a heavier section in the mast where it has sleeves both inside and out.
Farr-designed, Mills-adapted, 51 footer Mandrake is owned by Fred KINMONTH and Nick BURNS. She is a full-time Asian circuit competitor, and has participated in China Sea Races, the Phuket King's Cup, Raja Muda, China Coast Regatta, Hainan Race, and HK-Vietnam Race.
Mandrake placed third in the 2006 Vietnam Race, and then went south for the Raja Muda. The scramble for honours went right down to the last race, with Mandrake claiming the Raja Muda Cup at the end of a nail-biting and very enjoyable series.
Neil PRYDE is the most successful competitor on the Asian regatta circuit. At various times he has won the China Sea Race, the China Coast Regatta, Singapore Straits Regatta, Raja Muda, Phuket King's Cup, the Omega Asian Yachting Circuit and the Lipton Trophy - the latter, four times. Hi Fi is a Farr 52, formerly Ray ROBERTS' Hollywood Boulevard, and is frequently crewed in major regattas by 'off duty' members of the Oracle BMW America's Cup team.
Dhevatara Drumstick, Robbie KNIGHT's Dk46 won the 2005 Phuket Kings Cup with Ray Roberts on the helm. This year the boat is chartered to Toby O'CONNELL from Dubai, current owner of Yo! and has on board top tactician Steve McConaghy, who also called the shots for ROBERTS last year.
Karakoa, Alan ANDREWS-designed Excel 53 owned by Ray ORDOVEZA (Philippines) and chartered to Stephan REITH for the King's Cup 2006. The boat has competed in all the major Asian regattas at one time or other, winning the Omega Asian Yachting Circuit Singapore Straits Regatta in 2004.
Konka HUMMINGBIRD, is a Corby 41.5 owned by Frank PONG and skippered by Ada WU. She is used as a training and development boat to introduce more Chinese to big boat sailing. HUMMINGBIRD and WU are both very much unknown quantities in the top racing division, but are looking like a good bet to win the new trophy for 'top Chinese boat' presented by the CYA (China Yachting Association).
Kata Beach is abuzz tonight with sailors enjoying the delights of the restaurant district
Simon JAMES summed up, 'Lots of boats, but what is even more exciting is the record number of sailors. We have not yet completed the tally, but we are already way above any previous figures. Six or seven years ago the 'Big Boats' were 40-50 footers, now the we are seeing 60-70 footers with crews of 20-30 sailors.'
One thing is certain, there is depth and breadth across this record fleet and the competition is expected to be tough in the 13 classes of boats, racing until next Saturday 9 December.
This year's Phuket King's Cup Regatta will be sailed over five days, in the first week of December to coincide with His Majesty the King's birthday on December 5.
The principal sponsor of the Regatta is Raimon Land PLC, who are joined by Kata Group, TMB Bank Pcl, Chivas Brothers (UK), Royal Phuket Marina, Thai Beverages PLC, Thai Airways International PLC, Mom Tri's Boathouse, Coutts Bank, Sunsail, Phuket Magazine, The Nation, Phuket Gazette and a host of local businesses which support the event.