Sailors, Spinnakers and Scenery

A big shout out to Andy Dowden, who celebrated his 39th birthday again, while sailing on PIMEX Lawan in the third day of the Bay Regatta 2013. Andy took to the stage as MC at the opening-night party, surrendering the duties to ACYC Commodore Mick Kealy on the second evening.

In the Racing Class action today, Arbuzov Andrey’s Ruby Tuesday took first by twelve minutes on corrected time over the Andrew Marshall-helmed Judy with Ray Waldron’s Surf Patrol coming in third nine minutes later on corrected time.

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Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia claimed top spot in the very competitive multihull class edging out Hurricane by 6 & ½ minutes on corrected time. Miss Saigon came in third, ninety seconds later. John Newhman’s Twin Sharks used its kite to its full advantage and planned  on one hull around the final island mark to beat Hans Rahmann’s Voodoo to the line, but when handicaps were applied Voodoo finished fifth, behind Mojo and ahead of Twin Sharks.

Bareboats saw the two Russians finish one-two today with Nikiforov Eveni placing first on Kinnon ten minutes ahead of fellow Russian Igor Skvortsov on corrected time, who took second on Uhuru. Andy Dowden got his birthday present and took home third with PIMEX Lawana, finishing a couple hours after the Russians. Fidji, after winning the class yesterday, unfortunately didn’t fare so well today and didn’t finish.

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Cruising A saw Jim Ellis again pull from his vast repertoire of sailing knowledge to lead Remington to first, fifteen minutes ahead of Richard Macfarlane’s Aida on corrected time and twenty minutes ahead of Nick Band on Emerald Blue.

Cruising B saw the Gillows fly away in Poco to capture top spot by over half-an-hour over Gavin Welman’s Rascal. Third spot went to Barry Wicket’s Kay Sira, who came in about a half-hour behind Rascal after the TCF was applied.

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A channel race, this regatta takes place over four days.  The idea for the regatta was concocted by a group of sailors on a weekend sailing rally to Chong Lat fifteen years ago. Then, as in now, the Ao Chalong Yacht Club played a huge role in the formation and running of the regatta.

But what really sets the Bay Regatta apart isn’t the parties, the yachts, or the people, but the stunning karst topography of Phang Nga Bay. No other sailing event can lay claim to such a spectacular backdrop.

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The amazing limestone towers of Phang Nga Bay create ideal backdrops for the vivid sails of the fleet. Cruising with a fleet of multi-coloured sails billowing through such magnificent scenery can be inspire awe, and surely is much of the reason for the ever-swelling popularity of this event.

The beauty of Phang Nga Bay and its stunning karst topography makes any old sea dog a little less fierce as they gaze out to the stunning limestone cliffs surrounding them. Boats sail to a different venue every night, crews bunk on board and the evening entertainment is known to be wild.

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The route takes the fleet through the scenic southern Thai provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi and included some secluded yet favoured anchorages and party venues. The regatta prides itself on its parties and going to an unusual place every night. This year was no different.

This relaxed sailing experience follows Phuket’s famous King’s Cup Regatta by two months, contrasting with the serious nature of its bigger brother as many participants sleep aboard their boats as the fleet moves around its four-day circumnavigation of the Bay, unfurling first sails off of Ao Po Grand Marina and returning to Phuket’s primary natural harbour Ao Chalong at the southern tip of Phuket.

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Although everyone worked hard, they played harder. And in essence that’s why this regatta is so popular: there’s competition for the skilled racers and family fun for the live-aboard cruisers. It’s also a great way to enjoy some of the best cruising waters on the planet.

The influx of Russians hitting Phuket’s shores these days was reflected in the four Russian entrees: not only is there Arbuzov Andrey’s Ruby Tuesday in Racing Class, and Igor Skvortsov and Nikiforov Everil battling out in the bareboat class, on Uhuru and Kinnon, but Krill Stashevishy’s is helming another Russian-crewed boat, the Godova Sailing Club in Cruising A. The only boat with a total Thai crew is Patinyakonr Buranrom’s Ooh La La in Cruising B.

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Hurricane, with Mark Pescott at the helm, took line honours today and is doing well in a tough multihull division, bouncing back after its dismasting at the recent King’s Cup. Mark has won this regatta eight times on various boats, including his own Summersalt; Mark is famous not only for designing fast catamarans but also for his skill in racing them. Then Mr “Yee Haw” himself, Jim Ellis has taken this regatta six times on his boat Remington.

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