Evason Resort Phuket Race Week
All photographs features in the article are copyright of Guy Nowell, the official Regatta Photographer.
First image copyright of Helicam.
Chart kindly provided by Image Asia Events and Andaman Sea Pilot in conjunction with PIMEX.
The Evason Resort Phuket once again the hosted Phuket Race Week with Image Asia the driving force behind the event now in its second year. After some debate and with careful consideration Grenville Fordam and Andy Dowden of Image Asia took the decision to introduce the two divisions and two starts for the multihulls.
PRW Briefing Simon James Sunsail and Andy Dowden, Grenville Fordam from Image Asia - organizers
The general characteristics dividing the divisions were as follows:
Racing Multihulls Performance Cruising Multihulls
Under 38 feet / 11.58 M Over 38 feet / 11.58 M
Under 6,000 Kg / 13227lb Over 6,000 Kg / 13227lb
Outboard driven Inboard diesel driven
The separation worked well allowing the smaller lighter cats to get underway in clean air with well matched competition. Interestingly enough all the racing cats were Australian – Mark Pesscot designs. Coincidentally all cats were charter cats operated by Latitude Eight Charters Phuket. www.latitude8yachts.com
The larger Performance Cruising cats were all Australian designs too, with three Tim Mumby alloy cats and one Schionnings composite cat. Much the same as racing division all cats were charter cats in this case operated by Faraway Sail and Dive Expeditions Phuket www.far-away.net
The first day saw bustling activity with an enthusiastic bunch of yachts and multihulls running the start setting up time runs and testing the angles and breeze. The one hundred year old Schooner Seraph served as committee / start boat standing by in anticipation of the starter’s gun with division’s flags fluttering in the building morning breeze. Swarming multihulls we soon off on a starboard tack start heading for the first island rounding.
Sailing in comfortable light to medium conditions both divisions headed off for an around the islands race with plenty of spinnaker gibes the order of the day. Charro was leading in racing class followed by Cyrene, Chimera and Ceberus with Chameleon leading the pack in performance cruising followed by Mozart, Kilo and Chakra.
On rounding Koh Bon to port spinnakers were set shy for a close reach to Koh Kae followed by port rounding of a safe water mark at Cape Panwa. The next obstacle was the famous Stafford Rock named after Stafford Steer the skipper of the catamaran No Fixed Address. Stafford perched NFA on the rock many years back punching various holes in the bottom. Remarkably the only cat to make the pass in one tack was Chameleon. A little luck a few lifts and crew standing by to do a crash tack, plus one crew standing over the daggerboard Chameleon managed to slip pass.
The only casualty of day one was a small monohull called Ava. Ava struck a submerged rock a few hundred metres of Koh Bon pushing the keel up in the hull. Taking water she was dragged to a nearby beach and grounded with the help of the regattas inflatable RIB.
Unfortunately the incoming tide and sea conditions broke her up on the beach before a rescue effort could be organized. All aboard escaped without injury and were taken back to the Evason jetty aboard the RIB.
Day two saw and increase in wind and two races completed with some tight around the buoys racing in the two fleets. It also saw the debut of Voodoo Child a new Mark Pescott Firefly design. Voodoo Child was conservatively sailed for the first races to check out all the gear. Mark Pesscot was at the helm with regular crew Phil Bender and team, and, a very impressed new owner Olaf Reese from Pattaya. Later at the party Olaf wore an ear to ear grin when asked how his new cat performed. Impressive is the word that comes to mind. It was worth the wait! Mark Pesscot worked tirelessly into the wee hours for the month leading up to EPRW to get Voodoo Child in the water on the afternoon of the first days racing. She had only been out for a short test run before competing in the second day’s races.
A relieved Mark Pesscot was also seen downing a few Tigers beers having lasted the day without any major problems. Even with a conservative run Voodoo Child proved her worth taking out first on line honours in racing along with dual wins on handicap with Charro a close second with Cyrene holding down third.
Two races were contested on day two.
Chameleon dominated performance cruising with two over the line wins in both races with one first on handicap and one second loosing out to Kilo by a mere 13 seconds. Mozart came in third in the first race and a DNF on the second due to a mishap with a turning mark rope catching on her dagger board. Chakra struggle at fourth with family and friends aboard – notably all the crew were non sailors apart from Frank Cusack the owner. Chakra withdrew on the second race with mainsheet blocks blown and other minor damage.
The wind and sea kicked in on day three with a vengeance with numerous casualties. One casualty was Chameleon with headsail tack damage. Much to the disappointment of those aboard it required a trip to the local sail repair shop in Chalong - Palm Sails. Even thought Rick at Palm Sails had his staff standing by, the repair could not be finished in time for Chameleon make the start of the second race.
Cyrene a 38 foot Mark Pescott design cat beam flipped in a strong gust of around 30 knots in medium to rough sea conditions close reaching with a spinnaker up and both dagger boards fully down. Without getting into details it must be said the incident had nothing to do with the cat and a lot to do with the choice of sails – to much sail up and a lack of coordination aboard. It was a text book example of how not to sail a cat in windy conditions and a perfect example of how to capsize a catamaran. Mozart immediately withdrew from the race and stood by for assistance until the situation aboard Cyrene was secure.
Fortunately the eight aboard escaped with minor injuries being quickly plucked out of the water by the large inflatable RIB camera boat. The boys Darryl and Red provided the dingy and volunteered for the task. Their only want was to be feed plenty of beers in the evening. Darryl and Red were kept busy during the regatta serving multiple roles as photography boat, dropping off media and rescuing wet sailors from the warm waters of Phuket.
Mozart later rejoined the race with a time adjustment to take out 1st place on handicap against Kilo in performance cruising. Later in the second race Mozart took out line honours and 1st, she was the only cat in both divisions that completed the course with Kilo and Chameleon withdrawn due to sail damage and all the racing cats retired for various reasons. Chameleon went out as a spectator to follow the fleet while testing her repaired headsail. Well worth it as she trailed Mozart to see the big 14.4 metre alloy cat effortlessly lift a hull and gently place it back in the water a few minutes later. At the time Mozart had one reef in the main and two thirds of a headsail out pushing close hauled into Chalong Bay with an apparent breeze of 30 knots plus.
Mark Pesscott withdrew Voodoo Child from the second race to secure Cyrene and make it ready for righting. Using some rusty diving skills – it had been five years since the last dived – he removed and buoyed the broken rig and made her ready for righting. She was then towed over to a secure anchorage in the lee of Phuket Island near the Evason resort.
With the events of day three still fresh in everyone’s minds accompanied by the unsettling sight of a huge water spout circling the race area with some ominous black clouds drifting past the fleet opted for reefed sails.
The day unfolded to be a pleasant sunny day with constant winds of around 12 to15 knots. The reefs were shook out before the start for a short windward fetch followed by a long spinnaker run up Chalong Bay. From there a one mile run to a turning mark and a two mile close hauled run to the windward turning mark. Two of these circuits were covered with all of the boats back to their moorings by one in the afternoon. Chameleon took out first in Performance Cruising having passed all but one yacht/catamaran Needless to say Voodoo Child was the only cat not passed even though Chameleon did make time up on her. Mozart came in second and Kilo a distant third in Performance Cruising. Chameleon’s effort was not good enough to beat her sister ship Mozart for the series.
In racing Voodoo Child crossed first with Henry Kaye’s Charro second over the line and the Ceberus taking third with the sail training youth team aboard.
The heavens opened up later in the afternoon with strong winds and heavy rain seemly giving there approval to the finish of the second Evason Phuket Race Week activities whilst washing the salt spray of the competitors boats and crew.
The host Evason Resort was the venue for all the parties; all held at the “On the Beach Bar” right near the action. Five parties – plenty of Tiger Beer and spirits along with a refreshing change some home grown Thai wine – red and white to test the palate and not to bad either.
There were varieties of nibbles – finger food for three of the five parties and a splendid buffer for the other two nights included traditional Thai dishes and much western cuisine – even varieties of ice cream – cream caramel – bread and butter pudding accompanied by copious amounts of fresh fruit to those watching their waist line.
Music was by way of a resident disc jockey playing tunes that brought one back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.
As usual the events Madre De Bill O’Leary stumbled through the prize giving ceremonies with the regular mispronunciation of boat names a seeming well practiced art to “ have a go” at the various owners. Bill it is Chameleon not Camelot!
Grenville Fordam and Andy Dowden haven’t reinvented the wheel with this racing event but they have added some new racing tread tyres. A slightly changed quote from an old movie may apply here “They have done for racing what Stonehenge has done for Rocks!" Running the event during the off season in windy conditions was a big bonus. It has paid off with The Evason Phuket Race Week securing itself as an event to be at – for that matter the only event timed for the South West Monsoon season.
Only in it second year and attracting thirty one yachts amongst them eight catamarans, it has certainly made its mark in the yachting scene in Thailand. The event slots in well, a few months before the Kings Cup and is supported by the Kings Cup and the Kings Cup’s major sponsor Raimon Land a major real estate developer in Thailand. Bangkok based Raimon Land are also sponsors of the Top of the Gulf Regatta in Pattaya and sponsor yachts in the Koh Samui Regatta. They are a much needed and welcomed force behind yachting events in Thailand.
Multihull Performance Cruising
Now all eyes look towards the Kings Cup in December. Competition should be stiff with another Firefly due to appear on the scene and the possibility of a Raider joining from Australia. Maybe the Schionnings design Radial Bay cats Coco Blues (to defend her win last year) and her new sister China House will come over from Koh Samui if they are game to compete with the Fireflys and Raider.
Again if anyone is interested in participating with their own cat or wish to join in or charter a cat for this event next year or the coming Kings Cup please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.bareboat-catamarans.com www.far-away.net .
Other companies to contact are www.sunsail.com or the Kings Cup at www.kingscup.com , Phuket Race Week at www.phuketraceweek.com and Langkawi Regatta at www.langkawiregatta.com
Post regatta news sees the retrieval of Cyrene at Latitude Eight's boatyard.
Cyrene was later towed to Ao Makham commercial port and righted with the help of a shore based crane. From there she was towed to Latitude Eight's boatyard in Chalong Bay under the supervision of Mark Pesscot the builder designer. The replica motor launch Jessie was the tow boat with Mark Horwood at the wheel. Cyrene was soon on the trailer and dragged up the beach by four wheel drive and in the shed for repairs. Apart from the missing mast she didn’t look all that worse for wear. She floated happily at anchor for three days awaiting her retrieval. Not much can be said for the fate of Ava. Cyrene will be out there sailing again in no time but Ava is only drift wood on the beach. “Give me a cat any day".