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29 July 2005, 12:17 pm
Racing Gets Underway In Thailand
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Evason Phuket Race Week 2005
Phuket, Thailand

The wind gods were not quite as generous as they had promised, but race one of the Evason Phuket Race Week in Thailand still got under way yesterday in a little over ten knots of breeze, which was more than enough to get the fleet of 29 boats in five classes away and racing.
From a start line positioned strategically and sensibly right in front of the Evason Resort, Principal Race Officer Simon JAMES and Exec RO, John MCLELLAN, sent the boats away on a circular round the islands course taking in Koh Bon, Koh Hi, Koh Aeo and Koh Lon.

'There was only one boat OCS in all the five starts,' noted JAMES, 'and that boat was over by a good 20 seconds and never came back. All in all, it was a very well-behaved fleet.'

IRC 1, the principal racing division, made good time to windward in the direction of Koh Bon, with John VAUSE's Ruby Tuesday (back in action at last after a long hiatus caused by a 'missing' mast), hanging on tight to the coat-tails of Scott DUNCANSON's Phuket 8 sportsboat, Securicor Somtam Express. 'We stayed with them for a long way,' said VAUSE, 'but their local knowledge rounding the first island mark really helped them. They took the corner much more tightly than we did, and once they had their big asymmetric up there was no way we were going to stay with them.'

After more than three hours of racing, and with time corrections applied, Ruby Tuesday was only 3 minutes and 20 seconds behind. 'I think that's a pretty creditable performance,' said VAUSE 'and we can do better.' Third in IRC 1 was David LINDHAL's La Samudra.

Finishing times in the IRC 2 division were even closer, with Mick KEALY's Minx beating Cinders of Stuart CROW, by just 2 minutes and 59 seconds after almost four hours on the water.

Boats in Club Class, the smallest monohull competitors, sailed a slightly shorter course and finished in much the same sort of elapsed times. Simon JAMES said he was very pleased that all boats finished, despite the medium-to-light conditions. 'Shortening the course for Club Class proved to be a good call, so I was happy with the way the day started and I was happy with way it finished.'

Mark TRUMP's Maddalena was first across the line, but Matt MCGRATH's Gator, beat them into second place by only 47 seconds on handicap, with Christine CAUFMAN's Rastegaisse VI in third place.

The line up for the multihull racing division looked very close to a one-design race. Four sister cats, all from the drawing board of designer Australian Mark PESCOTT, all built locally by Mark HORWOOD's Latitude 8 yard in Phuket, and with only marginal differences in their handicaps, all started smartly together and looked set for a close race.

In the event, it was Charro, chartered and skippered by ex-Hong Kong sailor Henry KAYE, that prevailed. Another well known Hong Kong sailor in the crew, George STROME, said, 'it was Henry that did it. He really knows how to keep a boat moving in the light stuff, and never misses an opportunity to squeeze a few extra yards out of a puff or a shift.'

Finishing second in the class was Sue and Michel ARNULPHY's Cyrene, a mere 34 seconds ahead on the water, but three minutes adrift on corrected time. Cyrene was also carrying Hong Kong crew, from Hebe haven Yacht Club, so there is plenty of opportunity for some friendly RHKYC - HHYC rivalry in this division over the next three days of racing.

The multihull premier division, the big cruising cats, really needed a bit more breeze to get them going, but Bob MOTT's Chameleon still took the double of line and handicap honours. 'The principal difference between the boats in this class is weight,' said MOTT, 'and of course that's critical in lighter breezes. Just like everyone else we are looking forward to the stronger winds forecast for the end on the week.'

The only mishap of the day involved Ava in the IRC 2 division, chartered by Joost VAN DER POST, who managed to find an isolated rock some 100m or so off the northern end of Koh Bon.

'There was another boat about 50m closer to shore than us, so we never thought we were too close in, and we hit the rock,' said VAN DER POST. The collision put a very substantial crack in the plywood hull, and Ava started taking on water very fast.

Skipper and crew quickly grounded the sinking boat on the nearest beach and further salvage operations will be taking place over the next couple of days. All the crew were taken off safely by media boats following the race and there were no injuries.

Racing continues in all classes with a first start at 1000 hours local time today.

Guy Nowell/Sail World
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