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5 December 2006, 12:43 pm
Birthday Celebrations
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Phuket King's Cup Regatta 2006
Phuket, Thailand

December 5 2006 is the date of His Majesty the King of Thailand's 79th Birthday, this year is the Diamond Jubilee of his accession to the Thai Throne in 1946 and it is the 20th Phuket Kings Cup. This morning there was a historic celebration at the Phuket King's Cup, a magnificent spectacle as more than 100 yachts staged a Sail Past.
From a tiny Shaw six-metre sports boat to Frank PONG's magnificent maxi, a Reichel Pugh 25-metre sloop, yachts flying burgees from opposite ends of the world, from the Antipodes, across Europe, Asia to North America sailed past the bedecked Royal Thai Navy frigate.

The Royal Thai Navy crew lined the deck, resplendent in white uniforms, as the passing flotilla 'Chai Yo'd' from their own decks, raising caps in salute.

While the King's Birthday celebration has been a regular part of the Phuket Kings Cup event over the last two decades, this is the first ever Sail Past and it was a cherished moment for the sailing community. As Thai sailor Radab KANJANAVANIT commented, 'the Sail Past really gave me Goosebumps.'

Back to business then for the 101 boat fleet and it was a 'tough day in the office' for the race officers.

On the windward leeward course in the Thai Beverage series sailed by the Racing, 1 and 2, Sports boats, IRC 1 and Firefly 850's, the north north easterly was at five-six knots but swung right to north east and then softened. There were patches of glass. The second race provided similar difficulties, but the third race for the Racing fleet settled in at eight-nine knots.

In the Racing Division 1, Race 2, Toby O'CONNELL'S Dhevatara Drumstick (DK46) was first from Neil PRYDE'S Hi Fi (Farr 52) and Paul WINKELMANN'S Island Fling (TP52).

In Race 3 Island Fling was fast off the line and crossed the fleet on port tack but Mandrake (Nick BURNS) beat her and Hi Fi. In Race 4 Dhevatara Drumstick again took the honours from Island Fling and Hi Fi.

Drumstick tactician Steve MCCONAGHY was smiling when he came ashore. 'We had a good day. Yesterday was always going to be a big boat race, as the wind died away, but today we all sailed in the same conditions. Very similar to the light weather conditions of last year, when we won. '

In Racing Division 2, Race 2, Peter DYER'S Madam Butterfly took top podium placing, with Niels DGENKOLF'S Phoenix second. Jonathan MAHONEY'S Happy Endings, was on the podium for a second day, placing third. Happy Endings did one better in Race 3 and placed first, with Madam Butterfly second and Panic (Jeff DAVIDSON) in third.

IRC 1, Race 2 was won by Rhythm Stick, an X442 owned by Ryuji NAKATA, from the Swan 55 of Andy PAPE, Big A. Valdemar BANDOLOWSKI'S Di Hard, a Frers 41 was third today. Rhythm Stick also won IRC Race 3, with Octopussy (Jaray TIPSUK) in second and Sita (Peter WINTLE) in third.

In Coutts Premier Division, Geoff HILL'S Lyons 49 Strewth had a brilliant start and she took the honours from Andrew RICHARDS' Warwick Moon Blue. Frangipani Girl, a Swan 53 owned by David ROSS, finished third.

Strewth was again triumphant in Race 3, this time with Nix (Nico CORTIEVER) and Moon Blue (Andrew RICHARDS) filling the minor placings.

In the Firefly 850 Sport Division, Marc CUDENNEC'S Chi Machine continued her winning form to take today's race from Andrew MARSHALL'S Pink Lady, with Roger KINGDON'S Moto Inzi third. In Race 3 Chi Machine again took the top spot, from Moto Inzi and Twin Sharks (Bill PHELPS).

In the competitive Sports Boats Division, Race 2, Motornet (Kenichi TAKAHASHI) again performed well to win from Just (Shuji HAGIHARA) and Platu (Ket MANGHLASERANEE).

In Race 3 Motornet continued on her winning way, with Vino (Phil WARDROP) and G4S Somtam Express (Scott DUNCANSON) in third.

Today was the Mom Tri's Boathouse Race for the Multihull 1 and IRC 1 and Sunsail One Design fleet, which sailed a 15 mile course, while the Multihull 2, Bareboats, Ocean Rover and Classic fleet sailed an 11 mile course.

While the start breeze was more than six knots, the fleet parked for a while near the first mark as the wind went from north east round to west north west and lightened off to four-five knots, with patches of glass.

Out in the distance, it seemed a storm might be building off Karon Beach and when new pressure came in up to ten knots, the back of the fleet languished for some time. The last leg was meant to be a shy reach but ended up as a square run in seven-ten knots of breeze.

In IRC 2 Race 2, Minx (Rob TAYLOR) was first, from Next Page (Peter FORBES) and Royal Thai Navy 1 (Lt Peera SAGULTEM).

Ocean Rover Division Race 2, Calypso JJ (Geoff WILSON) won from Rainbow Dream (Simon PIFF) and Festina Lente (Roy ELLAD).

Multihull Racing Division, Seekronghuk, Tim MILNER, won on corrected handicap from Philip DAY'S The Sting, with Radab KANJANAVANIT'S Cedar Swan third.

In the Performance Multihull Division Race 2, Gone with the Wind (Liam NICHOLS) won from Raimon Land Chameleon (Chris RUNNEGAR) and Ambre (Alfred POULSEN).

In the Bareboat Charter Division Race 2, Amadues (Masakido KATO) took the honours today from Bintang (MADDERN and BLANKLY) with Fidgi (Naoki WADA) third.

In the Classic Division Race 2, Argo (Brendon BAUMEISTER) won from Jubilaeum (Mathew HARSLEY).

Princess Athena (Antonio ESCRIBANO) today won the Sunsail One Design division from Princess Isabella (Keith HARDING) and Princess Christina (Robert YELTES).

All results are provisional and subject to protests currently underway.

Final full results will be available at www.kingscup.com

Tonight there will be a candle light ceremony on Kata Beach, with sailors and the Phuket community in attendance, part of the national celebration which will be televised nationwide.

Tomorrow's Kata Group Andaman Sea race is scheduled to be the longest passage race of this week's regatta, provided favourable sailing conditions hold for the long haul. However there is a possibility that the conditions may in fact be very light.

In contrast, the typhoon currently off Vietnam may influence the regatta later in the week.

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.

Rob KOTHE (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Start of race 3 onboard TP52 Island Fling © Rick TOMLINSON
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