For the second straight year the Russians claimed top honours at the Bay Regatta as Evgenil Nikiforov won glory again for Russia on First; following on Andrey Arbuzov’s victory last year on Ruby Tuesday. Russians also placed third in Cruising A (Elena); and had a first (Sita) and second in Bareboats (Venture).
Dozens of colourful spinnakers sailed through some of the world’s most famous cruising grounds, enjoying spectacular scenery and partying well into the night at some of the region’s most beautiful resorts.
A channel race, this regatta took place over four days. It kicked off February 12 with an opening night party at Chandara Resort & Spa ( www.chandara-resort.com) near Ao Por Marina. Racing started the next day as yachts headed out in the direction of Koh Yao Noi, stopping in at the Paradise Koh Yao Boutique Resort & Spa (www.theparadisekohyao.com) for the evening’s party. On the second day out,
Valentine’s Day, the fleet rounded Koh Man before heading down the Bay and mooring in Ao Nang in Krabi. For the third day of racing, the yachts headed off towards Koh Phi Phi where the evening’s party was staged by Arayaburi Resort Phi Phi (www.arayaburiphiphi.com). The final day of racing, saw competitors head back to Ao Chalong from Phi Phi, where upon finishing the regatta participants celebrated with a big bash and the final awards ceremony at the 02 Beach Club in Ao Chalong (www.o2beachclub.com).
PRO and regatta organizer Simon James allowed each yacht to drop its worst race, so final rankings were based on each boat’s top three performances*. First’s *three first-place showings allowed it to drop its poor showing on the last day and use its three-point total to defeat fellow Russian boat *No Applause*, who skipped by Denis Sarana, came in second with six points. Ray Waldron’s Surf Patrol’s win in the final race saw it claim third spot overall with 8 points. Arbuzov’s* Ruby Tuesday* came fourth this year with 13 points, while Thai entry Pine Pacific skipped by Ichinai Yingsiri, the largest monohull on the course, rounded out the racing class in this year’s regatta with 19 points.
The Cruising A class saw Niels Degenkolw (DEN) and his 3/4 ton Phoenix capture the seven-boat class he has won many times before. His first-place finish on the final day and five points during the regatta won out over *Beaux Espirits*, skipped by Andrew Bruechert and featuring the Kealy clan who ended up with 12 points during the regatta. The Russian boat Elena, skipped by Nikolai Korolev, tied with Beaux Espirits, but the latter got the nudge with its dropped race being a fifth and Elena’s being a sixth. Mr “Yee Haw” himself, Jim Ellis, did not finish in the top three (coming 5th this time around with 9 pts), so presenters were spared from being groped. Ging Patinyakorn Buranrom, who probably received more publicity in the past year than any Thai sailor ever has for competing in the Transpac Race, came fourth overall with 8 points on his Sansiri sponsored Windstar. Richard MacFarlane’s Aida and Rob Azzopadi’s Dreamtime duked it out for last place but sail damage caused Dreamtime to pull out after two races ceding sixth to Aida with 26 points while Dreamtime grabbed last with 29 points. It was a tough week for Mr Azzopadi who learned just after the regatta that he will have to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
The 12-boat Cruising B class, racing under the new NHC performance handicap system, which debuted recently at the Langkawi Regatta, saw Poco amazingly repeat its triumph from last year even though the Gillows did not race on day three as their two first-place finishes and their one second-place showing cinched victory with four points overall in this 12-boat division. Kevan & Sheila Perrins’ Oyster 435 Rusalka took second overall with two third place showings and a second scoring eight points after dropping their worst score. David Dowbson’s *Kanaola *finished strong winning the last two races but a tough first two days saw it relegated to third overall with nine points.
Mig Wehrle’s Aqua came fourth overall with 12 points while Gavin Welman’s Halberg Rassey 53 Rascal placed fifth with 13 points and Ma Du Zi, skipped by Virot Nualkhair, came sixth, even though it tied Rascal on point total (Rascal earned the advantage for its third-place finish while *Ma Du Zi’s* best finish was a fourth). Bay Regatta regular David Liddell and his Miss Saigon Old Boys sailed on Linda, a Bavaria 49, and claimed seventh overall with 15 points.* Blue Jay*, helmed by Jay Jarvis, came eighth with 16 points, Bonobo helmed by Steven Johnson finished ninth with 21 points while Bill Crump’s Tayana 55 Fistral took tenth with 22 points. Rate, skipped by Sergey Dicanov*, took *11th overall with 28 points and Invictas Reward, whose skipper John Ormston left Turkey to sail the world in 2003, came last in his first regatta with 36 points.
The seven-boat Bareboat class saw Sita, skipped by Russian Maxim Taranov, win every race except the last one (a 2nd) to earn—just like First— the minimum three points. Fellow countryman Petr Kochnev on Venture sailed well too claiming three second-place showings and one first to grab second overall with 5 points while Little Eva, skipped by Oliver Cully, finished third overall with ten points after dropping its worst race.
Russell Waddy’s Isabella finished fourth with 16 points while Tonicola 2, skipped by Russian Nikolai Vlasov, came fifth with 20 points and David Munt’s Singapore-based Sumalee came sixth with 24 points. The all-female crew from China, sailing a Bavaria 33 named Fei Mao, and skipped by Aussie Melissa Lambe, finished last with 28 points.
The eight-boat Multihull Class is always closely contested because so many of the boats are built in Phuket and it tends to feature many of Phuket’s best sailors. John Newnham’s Twin Sharks, captured the title this year with four points, the only Firefly racing, it also sailed under the unfavourable OMR handicap. Alan Carwadine’s Hurrican, a Stealth 11.8, came second with five points and Peter Wilcox’s *Mojo *(a Schionning Gforce 1500 with Roger Kingdon on-board) came third with eight points.
But there was drama - the much-hyped 40ft trimaran Adrenaline, a Formula 40, had teething problems and a mishap with its support boat Uravai while at anchor in Krabi left it unable to race the final two days. Lack of wind hurt the boat on the first day but skipper Mark Horwood was happy with the way if performed when the wind did gust at times on day two. Mark is hoping to take the boat across to the Gulf and compete in both the Top of the Gulf and Samui Regattas, but is looking for sponsorship to do so.
Only one Stealth managed to beat the aging Andaman Cabriolet prototype, Grenville Fordham’s* Nina* (4th overall with 19 points). And, unfortunately the newest Stealth, Galeforce (a Stealth 13), broke a boom on the first day of strong winds though it did have a great run on race number two, winning the class that day. It ended up sixth overall (26pts) as John Coffin’s Java (another Stealth 11.8) slid into fifth with 20 points. And Henry Kaye’s “speed machine”, the Seacart 26 Turbo trimaran, came 7th with 26 points, beating only* Adrenaline* (30pts) after it was able to drop its worst race.
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.
The ACYC, and its volunteer board, however, felt it could no longer run the Bay Regatta properly, so this year it handed over stewardship to “Mr Regatta” himself Simon James of Regattas Asia. Simon, who aside from being the PRO of the Regatta, has been one of its principle organizers along with his partner Kae Wattana, knows exactly what he’s getting into and if he and Kae run the event the same way he does the famed Samui Regatta, the Bay Regatta will have a very bright future indeed.
In the deep channels between the spectacular, vertical rock walls, the Bay Regatta’s philosophy of fun-amidst-beauty shone through for all to see. The hallmark of this event is a casual, fun-filled atmosphere. Many friends join together to sail the four-day event and while the sailing is serious for many racing class yachts, a large number of cruisers join for the experience of sailing through some of the world’s most amazing maritime scenery.
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 many retirees in the race. The tortoises, who carry their homes with them, may not look as shiny as the racing hares, but sometimes they finish ahead of the presumed front-runners.“
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.”
Congratulations to Simon James and Kae Wattana and their hard-working and cheerful team for keeping the tradition of the Fun Regatta alive and well. And as usual Andy Dowden did a great job as MC on the awards’ presentation nights.
The 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 visits three of Thailand's most scenic provinces in four days of racing and five days of partying.
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.
Host sponsors for the regatta were the Paradise Koh Yao Beach Resort & Spa, Arayaburi Boutique Resort, Bay View Resort, Phi Phi and O2 Beach Club. The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the PTT Group were supporting sponsors, while official suppliers included B&G, Canvas Creations, Electrical Marine, Haad Thip, NeilPryde, Quantum, Octopus Electrical Services, the Quantum Sail Design Group, S/Y Seraph, and Tiger Beer. The Media Partner was *SEA Yachting*.