Samui Regatta 2012 opens with good winds and close racing

Samui Regatta 2012 - day 1
Samuipics.com
Thirty-two boats lined-up for Day 1 of the 2012 Samui Regatta off Chaweng Beach. Representing over 20 countries, the international fleet of sailors have come to race against leading Thailand-based sailors at the 'Tropical Island Regatta'.

The Opening Ceremony the night before, hosted by Zico's Brazilian Grill & Bar, was presided over by Suthep Thaugsuban, Member of the House of Representatives; Chalorsak Vanichareon, Deputy Governor of Suratthani Province; and Danny McCafferty, General Manager, Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui.

Samui Regatta is well-known for attracting top boats and sailors from around Asia. 2012 sees 60% of the fleet coming from overseas to challenge a strong locally-based fleet including past winners and regatta legends. A number of strong Thai crews are looking to exploit home advantage, including Radab Kanjanavit on Cedar Swan, Kirati Assakul on Bandara Sonic, and Saad Panyawan on Kindred Spirit, all in the Multihull Class; and Amanda in IRC Two skippered by Lennart Fahlgren who leads an all-Thai crew.

All classes got underway in eight knots of wind, and were greeted with two squalls during the racing, testing crew work and boat handling skills.

IRC 0 class includes four Hong Kong boats who are up against Team Hooligan, skippered by Australian Marcus Blackmore. The first race started on time with the fleet racing windward/leewards. In a little over one hour, Genuine Risk, skippered by Geoff Hill and with Syd Fischer onboard, took line honours by eight minutes. That wasn't enough to take the win on corrected time, which went to Marcus Blackmore on Hooligan who beat Neil Pryde's HiFi into second by just 35 seconds, with Sam Chan's Freefire in third.

The second race for IRC 0 was a 26nm course north across the channel towards Phangan Island, rounding off Had Rin, through a gate off Mae Nam, round Ko Kong Ok to starboard and a finish at the northern end of Chaweng Beach. Freefire upped their game and took first place from HiFi in second, with Hooligan slipping down to third. At the end of Day 1, it's a three-way tie at the top of the class.

PRO Ross Chisholm sent the IRC Premier class on a 26nm race north to Phangan Island and back, giving the fleet a chance to stretch their legs. The distance and conditions played into the hands of El Coyote, skippered by Gary Baguley who took the win on corrected time from Dynamite, skippered by Brad Kirk, in second.

Close racing amongst the 10-strong IRC 1 fleet looks set to be the theme of the week, with less than two minutes on corrected time separating the top four in the first race – windward/leewards. David Ross and crew on KukuKERchu took line honours but managed only fourth on corrected time. The Mills 40 EFG Bank Mandrake, skippered by Nick Burns/ Fred Kinmonth, secured first place in race one, from Foxy Lady 6, skippered by Bill Bremner. Third place went to Jing Jing skippered by Rick Pointon.

In the second race – the 26nm course 5 – Walawala 2, skippered by Steve Manning came out on top with EFG Bank Mandrake in second and KukuKERchu, skippered by David Ross, third – EFG Bank Mandrake leads the class at the end of Day 1.

The six-strong IRC 2 class enjoyed some close competition with Greg Coops' Abraxas finishing first ahead of Lennart Fahlgren's Amanda and their Thai crew, with Reef Knot skippered by Stuart Collins in third.

Eight boats are challenging for the Multihull Class title this year with a strong line-up of regulars up against two newcomers to Samui – Fantasia and Sweet Chariot. Fantasia has performed well on the South East Asian circuit since arriving last year, with a number of wins to her credit, and while it may be the first time to Samui Regatta for Sweet Chariot, she is sailed by an experienced crew and skippered by regatta regular Henry Kaye.

The 26nm race suited Andrew Stransky and crew on Fantasia who took the Line Honours and the handicap win. Second place went to Sweet Chariot who beat Thai favourite Radab Kanjanavit and his crew on Cedar Swan by less than a minute on corrected time.

Racing continues tomorrow off Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, Chaweng Beach, Samui Island.

The 2012 Samui Regatta is organised by leading regatta services provider, Regattas Asia, with strong support from Samui businesses and staff.

Results and more info: www.samuiregatta.com