Photography by Scott Murray

Lead-in

More than 250 sailors representing 21 nationalities signed-up for the iconic Bay Regatta held 31st January to 4th February, 2018 in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi provinces. A four-day travelling regatta around Phang Nga Bay that stopped at a different anchorage each evening for a party under-the-stars, The Bay Regatta is famous for visiting some of the region's best beachfront spots.

Often referred to as the “fun regatta” and the “world's most scenic regatta”, it is a regatta like no other and one that attracts the serious and less serious racers. Having raced around the karts of Phang Nga and Krabi sailors are unanimous in their praise; “stunning”, “spectacular”, “there's no other regatta like it” are just some of the comments received from last year's participants.

ed1

“The Bay Regatta's route is unique. While most regattas head to open water, we race around the islands and why wouldn't you when you have the spectacular scenery of Phang Nga Bay on your doorstep?”, said Ms. Kae Wattana, Managing Director of organisers Regattas Asia.

The fleet of more than 30 boats was split into six classes and despite the beauty of the sailing route, the on-water competition was high. In the Racing class crews from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Russia challenged for the title. Last year's winner Megazip was back to defend her crown and reignited her rivalry with the well-prepared and campaigned Beneteau First 44.7 Fujin. However, the Hong Kong-registered Red Rum and Vitalii Plaksin’s Farr One Ton, Uminoko, who placed first in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta 2017 Cruising class, would challenge for the title as well.

ed2

A strong line-up of locally-based cruisers was split into Cruising A and Cruising B classes, and all stood a good chance to win. Baby Tonga returned and is looking to improve on their second-place last year while Fargo Express (second in IRC 2 at the 2017 Phuket King's Cup Regatta) is always dangerous. In the Bareboat Charter class, which saw a 40% growth in entries, crews looked forward to some friendly competition in one of the best cruising destinations the world has to offer.

The 10-strong multihull fleet was split into two class – Multihull Racing and Multihull Cruising. Last year's Multihull Racing winner Twin Sharks was back to defend their title and under the experienced leadership of skipper John Newnham are always difficult to beat. The Stealths – Asia Catamarans Hurricane, Phantom V and Twister 2 – tend to not to follow script and will race hard like usual, as will the smaller multis in the class – Bladerunner 9, off-line and Fugazi. In the Multihull Cruising class, Rick Fielding's Mojo hoped to make it two wins in a row and will go head-to-head with Raptor 2001, a regular on Thailand's sailing scene.

ed3

“We have a mix of international and local crews, and sailors of more than 20 nationalities. We have added some new stopovers to the route this year, but the regatta's travelling nature remains unchanged and the 30-plus boats competing this year enjoyed four days of excellent racing in the best cruising grounds in the world,” added Ms. Wattana.

Wrap up

On the fourth and final day of the Bay Regatta, Chang Race Day, PRO and race organizer Simon James continued the regatta’s two-start format as all the monohulls crossed the start line together followed by all the multihulls. Another great sailing day greeted the participants as they sailed a short loop around some of the islands off the coast off of Krabi’s Railay Beach, before heading out for a straight shot back to the southern end of Koh Yao Yai with the racing boats doing a slightly longer course than the cruisers. After all the boats crossed the finish, they headed back to Phuket, where they celebrated the final prize giving and dinner at Kan Eang 2 restaurant, overlooking Chalong Bay.

ed5

The four-boat Racing Class was already decided before the final race as Sergey Khamstov’s Megazip won the title for the second-straight year earning three firsts and a second-place for a five-point score over the four-day event (last year, the boat’s skipper was Aleksandr Trofimenko). Steve Manning’s Red Rum took second spot, with eleven points. Vitalii Plaksin’s Uminoko and Gary Baguley’s Fujin were next, tied at 12 points apiece, but Uminoko took third as a result of winning the class on day one.

In Cruising A class, Niels Degenkolw and his all women’s’ team took first in every race except when they finished second on day three, thereby keeping’s Niels invincibility streak alive, as he won his class in the Bay Regatta for the umpteenth time. Amazing, indeed, as the Dane is coming off recent reconstructive knee surgery on both knees at Phuket’s Vachira Hospital and sitting in Phoenix for a four-day regatta can’t be easy. Max Palleschi’s Prime Factor took send overall with Stanislav Pechenkin’s Russian crew Southern Breeze 3 came in third.

ed6

Cruising B was won by all the Thai-crew of Marigold, skippered by Ket Mangklaseranee. They turned three first-place finishes into a convincing overall lead. Mig Wehrle’s Aqua came in second overall but had the regatta’s cutest entrant-Mig’s three-month old son Lucas on board. Paul Baker’s Isabella, Greg Brennan’s Toot Yai (Big Butt), and Woodrow Christensen’s Linda finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

The Bareboat Class ended up going to George Brown’s Kinnon as Denis Aksenov’s Venture was forced to “retire” on the final race due to use of an improper sail. Russell Waddy’s Allsail Kingsman and Andrew McDermott’s Fei Jian were third and fourth overall in this division.

ed7

Fugazi was the star of the show in racing multis, winning line honours in all four races – but when their handicap was applied that was only good for fourth overall. John Newnham’s Twin Sharks tight-knit team of Alfie Rowson, Jason Corall (flew in from New York), Tam Keawwantha (flew in from Ireland), took first overall in this ten-boat class, Alan Cawardine’s Asia Catamarans Hurricane came second and George Eddings Blue Nose was third.

Multihull cruising was a two-boat affair and Robert Hossack’s Raptor 2001 whupped Rick Fielding’s Mojo in all four races.

ed4

Simon James did a tremendous job as PRO setting the courses, manning the starts and keeping things in order. Kae Wattana and her Regattas Asia team made everyone happy on shore, providing plenty of good food and drink and good entertainment. Sean Getchell’s Epic Charters stepped up and provided a superb committee boat, Hakuna Matata, and Captain Brent McInnis did great work steering the photographer’s rib. A big shot out to Simon’s team on the water—Susie, Cathy, Chandran & Eddie—as always, made sure all the starts and finishes were correctly posted and recorded.

Find me on...

facebooktwitterinstagram