Thirty-five boats, sailing in five classes, flying the flags of thirteen nations, set sail in the Bay Regatta, affectionately known as the “Fun Regatta” to all participants. Countries represented included Thailand, Malaysia, the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, the Netherlands and Ireland.

The Regatta was won this year by Arbuzov Andrey’s Ruby Tuesday, who took Racing Class honours adding another second-place finish on the final day to go along with two first-place finishes for a total of six points. Andrew Marshall’s Judy was across the board with first through fourth-place finishes notching up ten points to take second. Then Ray Waldron’s Surf Patrol, whose crew took home the “snappy dresser” award, came in third overall, winning on the final day to add to two third-place finishes and a fifth-spot placing for a total of twelve points. It may be the first time in Bay Regatta history that Niels Degenkolw didn’t place in the top three, as Phoenix came in fourth overall with 15 points, Moya Hin rounded out the Racing Class finishing fifth with 17 points.

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In what proved the most amazing class to watch the multihull division was won by the Amazing Stransky family on Fantasia, as the boat had three first-place finishes on corrected time to go with a second-spot placing for five points to break the ever-so fast Mojo’s regatta winning streak (Mojo had a first, a third, and two fourth-place finishes for 12 points ). Wily Mark Pescott’s Hurricane gave both boats a run for the money and only finished a point behind Mojo. Hans Rahman’s Voodoo and John Newnham’s Twin Sharks had their own little battle going throughout the regatta, and when it was all said and counted the former finished fourth with 16 points while the latter settled into fifth place with 22 points.

This year, the 5-woman Lady Sevenstar team (racing what was formerly The Frog) was one of the multihull entrees with Aussie helmswomen Liz Schoch leading her multinational crew of Marieke Derks, Meike Lange, Maureen Ezendaam and Lies Sol into action. They even have an individual support boat following them throughout the event. They performed admirably taking eighth spot overall in the eleven-boat division.

Bareboats was strictly a Russian affair with Nikiforov Evenii’s Kinnon finishing first every day and Igor Skvortsov’s Uhuru finishing second every day. Even though Andy Dowden didn’t race the final day (he and his crew went swimming) his three third-place finishes on PIMEX Lawan were enough to guarantee third spot overall in the division. David Munt’s Chalai and Peter Ohlemacher’s Fidgi rounded out the division with fourth and fifth spot, respectively.

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You had to figure it would be difficult to keep Mr “Yee Haa” off the leaderboard, and it was as Canadian Jim Ellis’s Remington won the Bay Regatta’s Cruising A Class for a record seventh time accumulating only four points with four first-place finishes — a clean sweep. Richard Macfarlane’s Aida came second with three second-place finishes and a third-place finish for a total of 9 points. Nick Band’s Emerald Blue, who had a spinnaker go walkabout on the second day, rallied with a third and second place finish on the final two days to take third overall with twelve points.

The Gillows once again proved that sea water runs that that family’s veins as Kevin and Mia led Poco to three first-place finishes and a third for six points overall taking Cruising B from Gavin Welman’s Rascal who settled for second with nine points and Barry Wickets’ Kay Sira came in third with twelve points.

This regatta is more famous for the spectacular settings of its courses and parties than the sense of sailing triumph, and continues to evolve while maintaining its original brief – to bring the joys of sailing right into the midst of the spectacular environments that surround Phuket.

It appeals to the serious, the not-so-serious and the not-at-all-serious “racing” sailors, combining spectacular natural scenery with lively parties and some sail boat racing. The region’s yachting community visited three of Thailand's most scenic provinces in four days of racing and five days of partying.

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Affectionately billed as “The Fun Regatta”, the regatta leads participants through a course of different anchorages and party venues. Camaraderie and fun are cornerstones of the event and as participants end up reliving each day’s sailing with post-race beverages and lively conversation followed by a casual dinner, a prize-giving ceremony and entertainment on shore.

Sailing scribe Kate Hubert has described the regatta thus: “The PNBR has always attracted cruising yachties – those who have abandoned the rat race and traded the bricks-and-mortar for a life afloat. So in addition to the toned bodies of the young race crews, there were also families, retirees, at least four cats and one dog in the race. The tortoises who carried their homes with them may not have looked as shiny as the racing hares, but sometimes they finished ahead of the presumed front-runners. “

In the deep channels between the spectacular, vertical rock walls, the regatta’s philosophy of fun-amidst-beauty shines through.

The regatta took place over four racing days. It kicked off January 30th with an opening night party at Ao Por Marina. Then racing stared on January 31st as the yachts headed out in the direction of Koh Yao Noi, stopping in at the Paradise Koh Yao Boutique Resort & Spa for the evening’s party. On the second day out, there was more sailing around Phang Nga Bay with the fleet headed back to Koh Yao Noi in the evening, but this time partying at the Villaguna Resort & Spa. For the third day of racing, February 2nd, the yachts head off to Krabi where the fleet had a free night as no regatta party was scheduled. The final day of racing, Feb 3rd, saw competitors head back to Ao Chalong from Krabi, where upon finishing the regatta participants celebrated with a big bash and the final awards ceremony at the fancy new 02 Beach Club in Ao Chalong.

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The oracle of Southeast Asian sailing Captain Marty once noted this regatta’s distinction, “Why does this regatta have a reputation for being the ‘Fun Regatta’ compared to the usual ‘gung ho’ racing events that we have grown accustomed to? Well you only have to take a look around the moored yachts. There are families with children bonding together, groups of old friends, drinking buddies reacquainting themselves, familiar racing crews and foreign charter guests sharing the experience with some old-fashioned camaraderie. If you are going to spend so much money on a boat it’s good to see the owners fully utilize the vessel for what it is designed to be used for.

“Instead of racing for a couple hours and going home, be prepared to live aboard for four days and use the galley, toilet and inbuilt luxury interior for what it’s worth. At the same time, the crew can develop some seamanship qualities and other boat handling skills not found on the race course. Make no mistake though, whether it’s a racing or cruising boat, monohull or multihull the racing element is alive and well. When the starting signal sounds it is sheet on and go for it. After the racing, it’s off to the overnight anchorage area and prepare for another prize-giving party at some of the finest resorts on offer in Thailand. Then get ready to do it all again the next day. To get through it all, calls for an exercise in endurance.”

The Bay Regatta was founded by a photographer (John Everingham) and friends (Chris Schaefer and Andy Stephens). Everingham, a long-time Phuket King’s Cup Regatta committee member, was motivated in part by frustration at the annual struggle over setting that regatta’s courses. On the one hand, he wanted to shoot the fleet of sails contrasted against the dramatic scenery. The hard-core sailors, on the other hand, wanted their boats as far away from land as possible to avoid fickle winds. Dramatic photos would attract more sponsors, argued the photographer; but the sailors always won. So the stymied lensman rounded up some like-minded friends and established a regatta designed to sail among the dramatic limestone island towers and mainland forests of the waters off Phuket’s east coast. The problem was that some time the courses would go too deep into the Bay, where the wind she didn’t blow. So when the ACYC gained control over the regatta a couple years back a compromise was worked out between beautiful scenery and good sailing courses.

This regatta is a non-profit event. Thanks to the support of sponsorship, it can continue to provide varied and interesting race courses through some of the most breathtaking maritime scenery in the world to reach unparalleled anchorages and party venues - all factors which contribute to this exciting event which keeps participants coming back each year.

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