Asia’s favourite “Tropical Island Regatta” the Samui Regatta returned to Samui Island’s shores May 25th to June 1st. This year the regatta was based at a new venue, the stunning 5-star Synergy Samui Resort.
Known for its high calibre of racing and tropical-chic parties, the Samui Regatta is popular with sailors from around Austral-Asia and organisers welcomed over 20 nationalities of competitors in what is also the season-ending event in the 2018/19 Asian Yachting Grand Prix.
Samui Regatta, however, isn’t all about the racing. The social scene is a big part of the Tropical Island Regatta’s appeal for the international crews. The boost to the local community from accommodation and money spent on the island by the 500-plus participants and friends is significant and a real boost to the local economy.
Race Day 1 saw Race Officer Ross Chisholm and his team head north of Chaweng to set the day’s startline off the northern coastline. IRC racers, (“IRC” is a rating rule to handicap different designs of keelboats allowing them to race together), were given two Windward/Leewards while the Premier divisions and IRC Cruising class were sent on a longer course taking in the scenic outlying islands and gin-clear waters for which Samui is justifiably famous.
With the wind splitting the fleet so dramatically in Race 1, the course was re-laid for the second race and after two laps less than 20 seconds separated the top two. Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood (AUS) edged out THA 72 to take the win. Freefire (HKG) jumped up into third with Jelik snatching fourth, just fifteen seconds ahead of WindSikher on corrected time.
Going into the final day, after four days of racing, just 0.5 points separated the top two in IRC Zero with THA72 having the edge over Team Hollywood (AUS). One mistake, one bad call could decide the regatta. Looking through the scoresheet, the story for the entire class is one of close racing: all six entries made it onto the podium during the regatta; with four winning at least one race; and in Race 5 Jelik (HKG) and THA72 actually tied on corrected time. It doesn’t get much closer than that!
Needing a win on the final race day, the pressure was on Team Hollywood. THA72 got off to the worst possible start at the back of the pack while Team Hollywood screamed off the line and lead up the first leg, with Jelik and Zannekin (HKG) also in the mix. All changed on the downwind leg and the next leg upwind as THA72, with Noppakao Poonpat back at the helm after being out the day before passed all in front to take the lead and sail a clean race to the finish. First across the line and a win on corrected time was the perfect outcome for THA72.
Elsewhere in the class, Zannekin (HKG) got the better of Freefire (HKG) to finish third and fourth respectively, while Jelik corrected out in fifth.
With clouds sitting over the shoreline sucking away the breeze, the course area was beginning to look a lot like a lake, forcing the Race Officer’s hand. With nothing on the horizon, the decision was made at 12:45 that there would be no more racing at the 2019 Samui Regatta.
With that decision, at the end of eight races for IRC Zero, Kevin and Tom Whitcraft’s THA72 were declared the winners of the 2019 Samui Regatta – their fourth consecutive win and a new record.
In IRC 1, despite having sealed the win the day before, Mandrake III (HKG) were back on the course. A final race win was fitting for the unbeaten Mandrake III giving them seven wins from seven races and defending their title in the process. Another second place for Fujin (AUS) was enough for them to claim second overall, while a third place for Tenacious (AUS) ensured they held off the charge by Over Here (THA), who had to settle for fourth overall.
A shortened course for the IRC Premier boats appeared to open a chink in the armor of series-leaders Bella Uno (MAS) who, having won all races coming into the final day, had to settle for a second place finish in the last race of the series. It wasn’t enough, however, to change the overall outcome as they comfortably won the series.
Meanwhile, Lawana (THA) and Moonblue 2 (HKG) enjoyed some close racing during the week, and Lawana’s win on the final day – their first in the series – gave them the edge, finishing in second place three points ahead of Moonblue 2 in third.
The Open 60, Scallywag Fuku Bld 60 (HKG), left the rest of the NHC Premier Open Division in their wake, finishing almost 50 minutes ahead of the next boat and correcting out for a win by 20 minutes. This bumped them up to second place tied with Lawana. Scallywag Fuku Bld 60 claimed second overall due to their win the final race.
Damage to SailQuest Hi Jinks (USA) during day four’s races meant they did not start, leaving the final day to be a two-boat shoot out in IRC Cruising. A win in the final race for MoonShadow2 (THA) made it their second in the series but it just wasn’t enough. They had to settle for second overall, just one point behind class winners Graffiti (THA) who was competing for the first time in the regatta under the new ownership of Andre Den Braven.
The Samui Regatta brought to a close a long season of yacht racing in the region and the AsianYachting Grand Prix 2018/19, with the awarding of the AYGP Skipper of the Year. This year’s winners of the “hardest sports trophy to win in Asia” were Ray Roberts and Team Hollywood – their fourth win in the championship’s 17 year history.
Dates for next year’s Sami Regatta are set for May 23 to 30th at Synergy Samui Resort.
Top three finishers in each class:
THA72, Kevin & Tom Whitcraft (10.5)
Team Hollywood, Ray Roberts (12)
Zannekin, Marcel Liedts (20)
Mandrake III, Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth (6)
Fujin, Timothy Fox (12)
Tenacious, Hugh Haliburton (19)
IRC Premier Monohull Division
Bella Uno, Mike Brinkers (5)
Lawana, Pana Trugkabuncher (10)
Moonblue 2, Peter Churchouse (13)
NHC Premier Open Division
Bella Uno, Michiel Brinkers (6)
Scallywag Fuku Bld 60, David Witt (12)
Lawana, Pana Trugkabuncher (12)
Graffiti, Andre Den Braven (7)
MoonShadow 2, Mick Grover (8)
SailQuest Hi Jinks, Capt Tim (13
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All photos by Samui Regatta