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29 June 2004, 11:25 am
Somtam Express Sails Away With The Inaugural Cup
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© Event Media

Quantam Naga Cup
Phuket

Rarely does the situation arise in Phuket where yacht racers are faced with the dilemma of having to deal with big breeze. This was the case last weekend, where four of the regions top crews gathered for the inaugural Phuket Sports 8 Quantum Naga Cup.
An international event with competitors from Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia taking part in what is shaping up to be the THE emerging one-design yacht racing class for South East Asia. Sponsors the likes of Quantam Sail Design and Foster's Lager also helped to increase the events status and also aided in making it a truly great weekend.

Securicor Somtam Express skippered by Scott DUNCANSON dominated the very tough event, with 5 wins from 6 races and took home a brand new 'Fusion M headsail' by Quantum Sail design for his efforts. The regatta was held over the two days of sailing in quite uncharacteristic conditions for the resort island.

Races were structured into six windward/leeward returns where the fleet completed two laps of the course for one race.

Day one saw winds of 18-22 knots with gusts of at least 25 knots bustling through Chalong Bay at the island's southern tip.

With three scheduled races on the first day Securicor Somtam Express and Pla Loma (which translates to 'Dolphin' in Thai) skippered by Singapore's yachting veteran Keith MOORE, were the boats to watch and they started Race one hot on each other heels, beating up to the windward mark where the fleet all seemed to enjoy the comparatively flat upwind conditions.

Securicor were the first boat to reach the top mark and after rounding, launched their fractional spinnaker at the front of the fleet and raced off down hill. Securicor however were the only crew to hold on to their shoot in such heavy breeze and some inexperience showed through from Vino by Watermark helmed by Joshua LEE who was on his second ever outing on his newly acquired Phuket Sports 8.

After the first gybe, Vino was hit by a big gust and was knocked-down to starboard. With the rudder out of the water, Lee had no steering capabilities, however some quick thinking from the skipper to release the halyard righted the boat and they kept sailing, managing to save their brand new spinnaker from any damage.

Pla Loma and Image Asia Attitude 8 (skippered by Mark HORWOOD) also had problems in the extremely heavy conditions with both yachts losing control downwind.

Securicor managed to sail through without any major threat for a win in race one, followed by Pla Loma.

Image Asia Attitude 8 and Vino thought it better to stay with a two sail downwind run on leg 2 and finished well behind the front runners.

Race 2 on day 1 again saw Securicor lead to the first windward mark just in front of Pla Loma, and just after quite a heavy rain squall hit the bay. At the top mark however Duncanson on Securicor managed to catch his keel on the marks anchor rope resulting in a crew member having to dive under the boat to release the tangle. This cost Securicor valuable time and allowed Pla Loma, Vino by Watermark and Image Asia Attitude 8 all to sail past.

Vino again sailed their downwind leg on two sails trying to get a feel for the boat which allowed Duncanson to sneak back into second position. Keith Moore on Pla Loma took the lead down to the leeward pin. Image Asia Attitude 8 again experienced some awful luck down wind, breaking their rudder stock under the increased pressure which unfortunately put an end to their regatta.

Securicor followed Pla Loma to the windward mark again pulling Moore into a tacking dual. Duncanson finally broke Moore's covering maneuvers, got around the top mark and managed to maintain his lead to the finish line showing some brilliant bursts of speed downwind.

After the race mainsheet trimmer and tactician Muzza Nordstrand recalled speeds of 17-18 knots on the last downwind leg. Moore and Pla Loma finished only seconds behind with Vino by Watermark sailing into third place.

Race 3 and after another great upwind beat Pla Loma came around the top mark looking good. It seemed Moore had finally found his straps and began to feel comfortable on his first ever Phuket 8 outing. Securicor rounded only half a minute later to see Pla Loma running over their spinnaker after a hurried hoist. The shoot managed to wrap itself around the keel. Luckily, Pla Loma had Bruce Anson from Quantum Sail Design, the fleet's sailmaker, on board.

Anson swiftly leapt overboard, gathered the entire spinnaker underwater and hacked it off just below the head, freeing the sail, which allowed the boat to keep racing. To the crews credit they also turned back to collect the damaged sail - not to keep, but to remove it from the race course where it could have caused other competitors some damage.

This mishap allowed Securicor to race away. Vino by Watermark scored a second place for the first time in the regatta and Pla Loma with their heads held high kept sailing and took out third place.

Day two saw the conditions lighten, but only slightly. Wave conditions in the bay had seemed to flatten out overnight resulting in some very competitive sailing.

Pla Loma and Vino by Watermark had seemed to iron out any flaws they may have had on day one and were now racing with renewed vigor.

Pla Loma managed also to borrow a fractional spinnaker from Image Asia Attitude 8 which permitted them to stay competitive.

Race 4 on day two saw Pla Loma and Securicor begin a battle which continued for the entire day. Pre race duals had the two boats hustling for position. Josh Lee on Vino by Watermark smartly decided to stay away from this struggle attempting to get a better start at the line than on the previous day.

Securicor and Pla Loma lead neck and neck to the first mark in race 4 with little difference between them. Vino by Watermark experienced more trouble lifting their spinnaker just after the mark when their halyard was caught on their top spreader. They eventually managed to untangle the mess but lost valuable time and allowed the front runners to extend their lead.

In the second lap of race 4 Pla Loma's upwind speed had greatly improved compared to day one. Securicor just managed to shut out Moore and Pla Loma with some good covering maneuvers at the top mark, and managed to maintain their lead to the finish once again showing some exceptional downhill speed.

Race 5 saw the tables turn and Keith Moore and Pla Loma after a cracking port tack start led all the way to the windward mark. Securicor also took to the starboard side of the course and the two boats dueled all the way upwind. Vino took off to port and once they all reach the top mark, the three boats were within seconds of each other rounding the bouy.

Downwind, all three crews kept it together, flying their spinnakers all the way to the leeward pin. Josh Lee and Vino by Watermark finally got in the groove downwind and looked splendid under full sail displaying their new and very apt logo of a winged wine bottle.


Upwind again in race 5 was another tacking dual between Pla Loma and Securicor. This time it was Moore's persistence that paid off. After probably 15 tacks coming into the windward mark Securicor conceded, ducking beneath Pla Loma allowing them to round first. Pla Loma then led all the way downhill to the finish but only narrowly held out Securicor who crossed seconds behind. Lee on Vino also showed some downhill brilliance and finished another 20 seconds behind Securicor.

The last race of the weekend was certainly one of the most exciting. Josh Lee was finally showing confidence at the helm and the crew work on Vino seemed to have become a little sharper than on day 1. Pla Loma again showed their improved upwind speed and led all the way around the course to the second windward rounding. Shortly after rounding the mark it all went sideways for Pla Loma when they once again found themselves with the spinnaker in the water after the halyard became jammed between the lower shrouds.

This gave Lee aboard Vino one final chance of a second place in their last race. It all looked like a dream run for Vino until they left their final gybe a little too late broaching directly in front of the start boat and allowing Moore to steal second place in the last race and the regatta.

The winner Duncanson commented: "Although the results may not show as such, it was a fiercely contested event. We didn't let our guard down once and if we had Keith {Moore} would have been all over us. By the end of the regatta all crews had shown dramatic boat handling and tactical improvements, which is what one-design sailing is all about. To top it off it was also a wonderful social event thanks to Foster's, Quantum and Latitude 8 our three sponsors".

The Phuket Sports 8's will next meet at Phuket's newest international regatta - Phuket Race Week held from July 10 -17 from the Evason Resort on Rawai Beach.


Final point scores:

Securicor Somtam Express 1,1,1,1,2,1 7 points
Pla Loma 2,2,3,2,1,2 12 points
Vino by Watermark 4,3,2,3,3,3 18 points
Image Asia Attitude 8 3,4,DNS,DNS,DNS,DNS, 25 points
Andrew Craig (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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