By THE NATION
Despite some serious competition from Thailand’s former world Optimist champion and two-time Asian Games gold medalist Noppakao Poonpat, who was at the helm of the Thai-registered boat THA 72, Roberts and his crew finished the regatta in overall first place. THA 72 finished a close second with six second-place finishes from the eight races contested.
The Hong Kong-registered boat WindSikher of Sarab Singh and Nick Burns finished third overall, despite not starting in the final race, which was held in strong winds.
“Before the start of racing today the wind was at 24 knots and gusting up to 30 knots,” said race officer Simon James. “At the start of racing the wind was averaging 17 knots, then it went up to 22. The wind was all over the place. Safety is the most important thing and on Friday we cancelled some racing. But today the conditions were better and we were able to hold the races.”
Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, a personal representative of His Majesty the King, presided over the Royal Awards Ceremony and presented the trophies to the winners on Saturday afternoon.
Russia’s Alexey Mashkin steered MegaZip to first place overall in the IRC 1 class after three wins from eight races. Hot on his heels were two Japanese skippers, with Kazuki Kihara on Char Chan in second place and Nanamori Yasuo on Emagine in third.
Proving that size doesn’t matter was Danish sailor Morten Jakobsen, who steered his small boat Over Here to victory in the IRC 2 class. Jakobsen was at the helm of the smallest boat in the class and won four of the eight races contested, just managing to get the better of two Chinese skippers.
Finishing second overall in the IRC 2 class was Shen Sheng on Bigboys Sailing Team, followed by Minzhi Feng on Highlead Encoragers.
Overall honours in the Premier class went to Hong Kong’s Geoff Hill on Antipodes, who won two of the seven races contested. Australian Peter Cremers finished a narrow second overall on Shahtoosh, just pipping Thailand’s Inthinai Yingsiri, who had to settle for third.
Australian Dan Fidock won six of the seven races to finish on top in the Multihull Racing class, with Dan Moore and Nigel Cross on Frankenstein in second place and Hong Kong’s Gaeten Verhegge skippering Team Red Blood into third.
The Firefly 850 Sports class, for mostly locally-built racing catamarans, saw Phuket-based sailor Hans Rahmann score four wins from eight races for a narrow overall victory on Voodoo, with Great Britain’s John Newnham a close second on Twin Sharks and fellow Brit Neil Ayre third on Mamba.
The International Dinghy Fleet races were held close to Kata Beach on Saturday in a bid to avoid the stronger winds further out to sea. The strong winds on Friday had caused some problems for the mostly young dinghy sailors, 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.
A total of 120 sailors contested six classes of dinghies during the regatta, encouraged by the organisers who are keen to promote the sport among the young generation.
“For 2019 and in past years, we have had a special focus on growing the dinghy components of our overall regatta, as we in the sailing community in Thailand can feel the positive effect this is having over the years as the sport of sailing continues to grow in popularity here,” said Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Organising Committee. “The International Dinghy fleet is a fast-growing racing programme designed to promote and encourage youth sailing in Thailand.”
In Saturday’s blustery conditions, experienced Thai sailor ML Weka Bhanubandh took the honours in the Optimist boys’ class after a near flawless series of races. Thorfun Boonak, another rising Thai star, won the Optimist girls’ class.
The Laser 4.7 class went to Paliga Poonpat, while the Laser Radial honors were taken by Suchakree Detthotsapol. Jarupong Meeusamsen won the Laser Standard class, while the 420 class was won by Thanawan Aiam-mi and Nattapon Yuang-ngam.
There has also been an ongoing Phuket Dinghy Series, which concluded on Saturday and that was won by Nammapat Pooltong.
The IOM class for one-metre radio-controlled boats, which made their debut at this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, was won by China’s Gong Qunxing.
The Phuket King's Cup Regatta is organised by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organising Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the RTN 3 and Phuket province.
There were five days of racing for the keelboats and multihulls.For the International Dinghy Classes and IOMC, four consecutive days of racing were scheduled from Wednesday.