In the first day of racing in the 23rd Phuket King’s Cup, it was Hong Kong’s Neil Pryde and his Hi-Fi crew that finally earned overall Racing division handicap honours after a disastrous second race start and then a brilliant recovery.

In other divisions there were some great results as some defending champions held their ground while other fell over under the pressure of stiff competition.

The forecast for light airs for once was right with the Phuket King’s Cup fleet heading out early on the first race day to enjoy what breeze there was. While the racer/cruisers sat at their start line waiting patiently for the breeze to settle and build, the racing divisions on a separate course with a slightly more reliable soft easterly breeze of about 8 knots, completed three windward/leeward races.

First race day jitters were quickly shaken out in the big Racing boat fleet with Frank Pong’s 76-foot Boracay, from the start of racing, dominating the fleet to take two first places. Behind Boracay in the ‘50s’ group it was Ray Roberts’s Evolution Sails ahead of Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi. Then neck and neck at the windward mark was Russ Parker’s Ffreefire and Bill Bremner/Andy Cocks Foxy Lady IV in equal third. By the finish Hi-Fi had over a minute over Evolution Sails then Foxy Lady to Geoff Hills’ Strewth then Ffreefire. But it was the slippery Chris Mead Full Metal Jacket that took handicap honours sailing a smart race on time to Hi-Fi and then Nick Burns’s EFG Bank Mandrake in third.

The IRC1 and IRC2/Sports Boats divisions first kite hoists of the regatta were for some boats cautious while on others they were fast and furious. In the IRC1 good tactical decisions and efficient bow work on Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban ensured they maintained their lead throughout the first race. They remained clearly ahead of the other Beneteau 44.7s in the division, Tantrum and Walawala, who seemed to have been caught up in their own boat-on-boat battle. On Peter Sorensen’s Sail Plane losing the main halyard in the middle of kite hoist was a costly mistake. At the finish it was Ichi Ban with an obvious lead on line and handicap over the IRC1 fleet. In second on handicap was Peter Wintie’s Koull Baby followed by Ben Copley’s Katsu.

In IRC2 it was Stuart Williamson and his Endeavour of Whitby on handicap ahead of Peter Dyer’s little Team Bentley and Royal Thai Navy 1 in third.

In the first race the Firefly 850s fleet showed some nerves on the start line with The Frog and Moto Inzi suffering individual recall while the rest of their fleet sailed comfortably away from the start line. Hans Rahma’s Voodoo powered around the first mark and with a good kite set leading Brent Gribble’s Twin Sharks and Damien Ford/Shaun Jackson’s Sea Property. Voodoo took out line honours ahead of Twin Sharks and then Sea Property.

In the Multihulls (racing) it was an aggressive start for most of the fleet except for defending class champion and veteran King’s Cup competitor, Radab Kanjanavanit’s Semico Cedar Swan. David Wales’s The Sting, which Kanjanavanit predicted at the start of the event would be one of the strongest competitors in this fleet, was right up there at the first mark leading the fleet around as the breeze increased by a few knots. Thor was the final winner of race one ahead of Semico Cedar Swan and then The Sting.

The cruiser/racers finally got their start after 10am when the breeze settled and hit the early teens. While the smaller boats enjoyed close racing the larger ones were sent off on a long coastal race.

In the second race for the racing divisions the breeze kicked up to just over 10 knots before settling again during the race to lighter airs making the racing tactically challenging as could be seen by the change of fleet positions during each leg.

In a dramatic start to the Racing division Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi was over the line early squeezed out by Evolution Sails and Foxy Lady. Back to the start line and then through it again, Pryde drove his crew and Wellborne 52 footer hard to catch up with the rest of the 50s in the fleet. This was really where the dance began as Pryde tacked and gybed this way through the six leg race. 'We got too high up on the line in the last few seconds and there was nothing we could do. There was nowhere to go. It was a mistake,' Pryde said.

Evolution Sails was second around the windward the first time. Strewth was third. Chris Mead’s Full Metal Jacket, was hot on the sterns of the bigger boats chipping away at the time advantage of those boats. Jamie Wilmot at the helm of the smallest boat in this fleet, Tazo Too, quietly continued to drive the Farr 11 fast and hard.

Around the windward mark the second time and Strewth was ahead in the 50s. Evolutions Sails was in third and Hi-Fi had climbed further up the fleet to be a split second behind. Strewth’s second place on line was challenged when at the windward mark for the last time, a huge rip in its red kite look set to distract the team. Another kite appeared on the deck appeared very quickly. By then Hi-Fi had gained a lead on Evolution Sails with some 34 seconds difference at the last mark. 'We got good speed and we got back through all except one of the TP52s. Strewth was the only one that beat us and the 70 footer,' Pryde said. On handicap it was Boracay to Strewth then EFG Bank Mandrake in third.

IRC1 leader in the first race, Ichi Ban, did not enjoy such a prominent place in the second race of the day Matt Allen found himself buried on the start line. With boat speed and good height, he was able to maneouver Ichi Ban out of the masses, but just could not shake Yasuo Nanamori’s old IOR 43-footer Switchblade. Katsu recovered from a poor first race result to lead the fleet. Quick kite, quiet kite hoists ensured they could focus on their game plan while leaving Ichi Ban and Switchblade to be distracted by their own personal race. At the finish Ichi Ban pushed out Switchblade to take first place followed by Brent Morgan’s 40 footer, L’autre femme.

IRC2’s race two was dramatic for the fleet with a protest pending between Endeavour of Whitby and Niels Dgenkole’s Phoenix. Provisionally Alfie Rowson’s The Beaver sailed a great race to beat Puma with Royal Thai Navy 1 again taking out third place.

The Fireflys were having a great time in the second race with Voodoo in charge, but with Twin Sharks nipping at their stern and The Frog trailing in third. By the final work of the second race both Twin Sharks and Sea Property had knocked off Voodoo. But it was Twin Sharks by the finish followed by Sea Property and then Voodoo.

Many of the yachts in the racing divisions struggled with their windward mark rounding often pinching to just make it, loosing speed and then frantically calling for a kite hoist to make up lost speed. Not the multihulls who sailed smoothly around the mark enjoying the flat water and light airs. First to finish on handicap was again Thor followed by Semico Cedar Swan and then The Sting; the same results as race one.

In race three for the Racing division Hi-Fi got a good clean start and apart from Boracay they led the other boats all the way around the course. 'It was a good race for us,' Pryde said at the end of the day. At last a very pleased Pryde got his first place on handicap followed by Boracay then again EFG Bank Mandrake snuck in another podium finish.

IRC1’s final race of the day was again a first place for Ichi Ban with Katsu in second and Koull Baby in third. It seemed as the day progressed the team on Katsu gained confidence and courage to challenge the defending IRC1 division champion.

Race three and the IRC2 division was taken out by Team Bentley, then Koji Kikuchi’s Platu 25 Puma followed by Ken Eyears’s Waka Tere. It was a much better race for Endeavour of Whitby after being finding themselves distracted by their poor results in race two.

On fire from a win in the second race, Firefly Twin Sharks again took the gun in the fleet’s third race ahead of Voodoo with Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi getting through the flee to finish in third.

The multihull’s third race was almost a repeat of race one and two with Thor again taking a commanding lead over Semico Cedar Swan. In third place was David Liddell’s Miss Saigon.

In the racers/cruisers divisions it was John Wardill’s Australian Maid in the lead in the Premier division as the fleet sailed a long course with some windward/leeward work as well. Starting in about 8 knots, the breeze at times kicked up to 15 to 16 knots.

Then disaster struck. 'It was one of the best day’s sailing I had here and it looks like we might have got the money today except that a trawler dropped a line just in front of the final leeward mark and we had to take enormous evasive action and let Baby Tonga through. That was a bit disappointing. It was just insane. They are not allowed by law to trawl within four miles of the coast. If he had kept going after he dropped the nets he would have trawled the mark.' Wardill will be in the protest room tonight seeking redress.

On handicap results Anthony Hastings’s Baby Tonga pushed out Australian Maid followed by Robert Tanner’s Shahtoosh. Last on handicap was the elegant, but heavy Obsession II, who no doubt struggled to achieve good speed in the light airs.

The Bareboat Charter division, which attracted the largest number of entries of all the fleets, struggled in the light airs. In first place on handicap was Mike Crisp’s Hanse 40 Venture. Second place was taken out by John Ford’s 34-foot Little Eva followed by Princess Anne.

Peter Wood’s Winstar in the first boat to win in the newly introduced Modern Classic division. A previous competitor in the King’s Cup, it may have come down to local knowledge which made the difference within this fleet of boats that ranges in size from 36 to 68 feet. In second was Nick Band’s Emerald Blue and then Simon Jupe’s Waconda.

The Cruising division completed one race today with Bob Ashman’s Simba taking out first place from Rod Heikell’s Skylax and then Gavin Weiman’s Rascal. They will be hoping for stronger breeze tomorrow.

The Multihull Cruising race saw only one finisher out of the two starters, Yoshiaki Fujitani’s Sunfish III. For the Classic division the two starters enjoyed a gentle sail with Rene Tiemessen taking out both line and handicap honours.

First three in each division –
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Race 2 Race 3 Total Drop Score Place
HKG 2112 HiFi Neil Pryde 2 4 1 7 0 7 1
HKG800 Jelik II Frank Pong 5 1 2 8 0 8 2
HKG 2166 EFG Bank Mandrake Nick Burns 3 3 3 9 0 9 3

Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
MAS 99 Baby Tonga-Hideaways Club Anthony Hastings 1 1 0 1 1
AUS 4100 Australian Maid Dr. Jon Wardill 2 2 0 2 2
HKG 1985 Shahtoosh Robert Tanner 3 3 0 3 3

Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Race 2 Race 3 Total Drop Score Place
AUS 6038 Ichi Ban Matt Allen 1 1 1 3 0 3 1
AUS 1943 Katsu Ben Copley 3 5 2 10 0 10 2
SIN 1231 L’autre femme Brent Morgans 4 3 4 11 0 11 3

Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Race 2 Race 3 Total Drop Score Place
GBR 4497 Team Bentley Peter Dyer 2 4 1 7 0 7 1
THA 114 Puma Koji Kikuchi 4 2 2 8 0 8 2
THA 2008 Royal Thai Navy 1 Royal Thai Navy 3 3 6 12 0 12 3

Bareboat Charter
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
5643 Venture Mike Crisp 1 1 0 1 1
B34 Little Eva John Ford 2 2 0 2 2
S1 Princess Anna Griese 3 3 0 3 3

Modern Classic
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
57 Windstar Peter Wood 1 1 0 1 1
48 Emerald Blue Nick Band 2 2 0 2 2
WYT Waconda Simon Jupe 3 3 0 3 3

Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
KS 5438 Simba Bob Ashman 1 1 0 1 1
113968 Skylax Rod Heikell 2 2 0 2 2
HR53 Rascal Gavin Welman 3 3 0 3 3

Firefly 850 Sports
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Race 2 Race 3 Total Drop Score Place
FF 298 Twin Sharks Brent Gribble 2 1 1 4 0 4 1
FF 777 Voodoo Child Hans Rahman 1 3 2 6 0 6 2
FF 888 SEA Property Damian Ford 3 2 4 9 0 9 3

Multihull Racing
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Race 2 Race 3 Total Drop Score Place
SW01 Thor Henry Kaye/Fergus Wilmer 1 1 1 3 0 3 1
THA 94 Seamico Cedar Swan Radab Kanjanavanit 2 2 2 6 0 6 2
11 The Sting David Wales 3 3 4 10 0 10 3

Multihull Cruising
Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
3 Sunfish III Yoshiaki Fujitani 1 1 0 1 1
Nipper Timothy Robins 3 3 0 3 2

Sail No Boat Name Race 1
Total Drop Score Place
1 Alondra Rene Tiemessen 1 1 0 1 1
None Sirius Simon Morris 2 2 0 2 2
Schwalbe Christopher Edwards 3 3 0 3 3