All the major racing class players in Asia are turning up in force for the seventh Koh Samui Regatta to make one last desperate bid to win an event before the 2007-08 season closes.
After last year's convincing win, Bill BREMNER made the decision to get a bigger boat and returns with the fully syndicated TP52 Foxy Lady IV and expects to be hoisting high the beautiful Waterford Crystal KSR perpetual bowl for the second year in succession. Since going down to the wire in the last race of the 2006-07 season, Frank POng and his 75ft R/P Jelik are the reigning AsianYachting Champions, will be going all out to add another prize to the ever expanding trophy cabinet. Even though Ray ROBERTS and Quantum Racing have already won the 2007-08 AY Skipper and Boat of the Year there is still the 'KSR bragging rights' to fight for. But the likes of Neil PRYDE's Welbourne 52 Hi-Fi, Sam CHAN's Ffreefire 52, the Kinmonth / Burns Mills 51 Mandrake and Chris MEAD's Corby 43 Full Metal Jacket will be pushing all the way to prevent Ray from lifting both trophies. Newcomers to the fold are Matt ALLEN's Beneteau 44.7 Ichi Ban, fresh from her recent victory in Dubai at the Maktoum Cup and Ben COPLEY's Club Swan 42 Katsu that made their debut at the Langkawi Regatta earlier this year.
However the Samui Regatta is not just about the Grand Prix yachts and a good line up of Racer/Cruisers, Sportsboat and Multihull's are already anchored off Chaweng beach. The organizers are very grateful for the boats that travel thousands of miles to compete and make this such a friendly laid back event for all to enjoy. By falling in June the Koh Samui Regatta may mark the end of the annual sailing calendar but as we are blessed in SE Asia by having an all year round sailing season, don't despair as the month of July brings Phuket Race Week and the start of the next racing season.
In IRC 1 Jeff DAVISON's Singaporean based Mumm 30 Panic is back to defend the title they so narrowly won last year on countback. They can expect some more close racing action as Pascal LERAY's Lyons 38 Breakaway who won the recent Top of the Gulf Regatta as well as David BELL's second placed Jeanneau 35 Magic Roundabout are all fired up and ready to go. Also up from Singapore is Jonathan MAHONY's Mumm 30 Happy Endings and Keith DUNN's Mount Gay 30 Lunchcutter are looking seriously at ruining the party and expect podium places by the end of the regatta.
Three Firefly 850 Sports catamarans, three Farrier/Corsair trimarans and the resident twin rigged Radical Bay 8000 catamaran are expected to contest the multihull class. Favourites are Peter DYER's Firefly SEA, who should have won the Top of the Gulf but were unlucky with two mishaps, Cedar Swan sailed by the highly disciplined Thai crew under the leadership of Khun Redab has won here before and the well travelled Corsair Sprint 750 The Sting has made an impression wherever she races. If the wind is light, which is forecast, then the tri's will come into their own but in the stronger winds at the TOG, the lone Firefly sped away and was literally un-catchable.
Thai television personality Kipsan BECK will be helming his nippy Shaw 6.5 Sportsboat aptly named Pornstar and if he can keep it all together should start out as the favourite. If the two Elliot 7's Moon Shadow and Ice Bucket registered by Mick GROVER make it to the starting grid they will have their hands full keeping Pornstar honest and Dick SANDERS Thai Raver at bay.
Another highlight of the regatta this year includes the first Samui Junior Sailing Squadron Challenge racing on the kindly donated Sunsail Odyssey 35 Princess Sharda. Organized by one of the original founders of the event, John STALL, this will give local children the chance to experience the passion and excitement of competitive yacht racing. Graham LIND's Hustler SJ35 Sumatra is up from Singapore and has won the cruising class at other Asian events before. Constanza and Big Blue are new on the scene and can be considered dark horses of the cruising class.
Callum LAING's Bangkok-based MobyElite have taken over organizing the event and local Samui sailing celebrity Francesco BRANCACCIO is heading up the island management team. The on the water Race Management team is again led by the experienced Simon JAMES, with a supporting cast that includes Aussie Race Officer Tony DENHAM returning for the third time and world renowned International Judge Mark PRYKE is bringing his vast knowledge and experience to chair the jury.
Koh Samui International Regatta - www.samuiregatta.com