By THE NATION
Only five of the nine classes were able to do any racing. The winds gusted from 30 to 35 knots in the morning off the southern end of the resort island, before easing slightly to allow for one race to be held late in the afternoon.
“We had winds gusting from 30 to 35 knots during the morning. Safety is the number one issue, so we had to cancel some of the racing,” said Race Officer Simon James.
When racing did eventually start in the afternoon, defending champion Australian Ray Roberts on Team Hollywood had a narrow win for the overall lead in the top flight IRC Zero class. He edged out Thailand’s former world Optimist champion and two-time Asian Games gold medalist Noppakao Poonpaton, who was at the helm of the Thai-registered boat THA 72.
With one day of racing to go, little separates these two speedy 52-foot racing boats.
The Hong Kong-registered WindSikher of Nick Burns and Sarab Singh finished third overall.
Russia’s Alexey Mashkin extended his overall lead in the IRC 1 class with a second place on his boat MegaZip, followed by Japan’s Kazuki Kihara on Char Chan, which won Friday’s race. In third place overall was another Japanese skipper, Nanamori Yasuo, on Emagine.
The IRC 2 class overall leader was Neil Semple and Morten Jakobsen on Over Here, closely followed by China’s Shen Sheng on Bigboys Sailing Team. Minzhi Feng, another Chinese sailor, was third overall on Highlead Encoragers.
The overall lead in the Premier class was held by Peter Cremers from Australia on Shahtoosh. Fellow Aussie Geoff Hill was second overall on Antipodes, followed by Thailand’s Ithinai Yingsiri on Pine-Pacific.
Only two boats contested the Firefly 850 Racing class on Friday, the last of the classes racing, and despite a second-place finish, Great Britain’s John Newnham’s Twin Sharks still has a narrow overall lead. Hot on his heels is Hans Rahmann on Voodoo.
The strong winds also caused some problems for the International Dinghy Fleet sailing off Kata Beach, with the Royal Thai Navy’s inflatable boats as well as some of the boats from the main fleet coming to lend a hand and towing some dinghies to shore. However, in the afternoon the wind dropped and racing resumed.
At the end of a windy day, experienced sailor M.L. Weka Bhanubandh led the boys’ Optimist class, with Thorfun Boonak in front in the girls’ Optimists.
Thanawan Aiam-mi had the overall lead in the 420 class, Suchakree Detthotsapol extended his lead in the Laser R class and Jarupong Meeusamsen cemented his lead in the Laser Standard class. Paliga Poonpat also kept her lead in the Laser 4.7 class after some close racing in difficult conditions.
The testing conditions were also noted by the large contingent of Chinese media, most of whom were drenched as they made their way across the windy, choppy sea on small inflatable boats to the Royal Thai Navy battleship anchored offshore, which is the media center. Friday’s racing was sponsored by the Belt and Road Regatta, which will be held in Beihai, China, on December 13.
It will be the first regatta in China named after the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s global infrastructure project, aimed at enhancing friendship and communications between China and Southeast Asian countries via sailing.
In the IOM class for radio-controlled boats, Thailand’s Vanaran Yusananda shot to the overall lead after four races held off southern Phuket. Vanaran is one of 14 Thais testing his skills as a radio sailor and jumped from fourth place on Thursday to the lead on Friday.
Maintaining his second place on Friday was China’s Yan Jiangiun, who held the same position after Thursday’s races. Australian Tim Brown was also consistent and kept his third position on Friday. A total of 24 radio sailors are racing, the first time the class was included in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.
The Phuket King's Cup Regatta is organised by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the RTN 3 and the Province of Phuket.
There are five days of racing for the keelboats and multihulls, with a rest day on Thursday, December 5. For the International Dinghy Classes and IOM, four consecutive days of racing were scheduled from Wednesday (December 4) .