The Bay Regatta

The Bay Regatta is organised by Regattas Asia under the auspices of the Phuket Yacht Club in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand. This year’s 21st Bay Regatta (31.Jan- 4.Feb.18) held steady with 32 entrants and around 200 competitors. One of the windiest so far, there was lots of excitement on the water for all divisions. The pre-race party was at the Chandara Resort Ao Po. Racing in the following days took in the karsts of Phang Nga Bay and Krabi with new anchorages each night and awards parties held at sponsoring resorts.

This year (as with all years), competitors comprised a mix of professional racers, first time racers along with cruisers joining just for the experience of sailing through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. Some have participated in all 21 regattas (the inaugural event was in 1998).

The entrants were divided into six, competitive classes and Simon James did a fine job as PRO, plotting the courses, managing the starts and keeping the show on track. Kae Wattana with her Regattas Asia team, covered the logistics on shore, providing plenty of food, drink and entertainment.

In the early years, the courses would often go too deep into the Bay, where the wind didn’t blow. So, when the Ao Chalong Yacht Club (now the Phuket Yacht Club) took over the regatta, a compromise was reached between beautiful scenery and good sailing. Then, five years ago, the club felt it was time to hand over the reigns to ‘Mr Regatta’ himself — Simon James of Regattas Asia. James had also been one of the regatta’s principal organizers along with his partner, Kae Wattana, so they knew exactly to do.

Day 1 1st February 2018 There were two starts: first off were the monohulls (21) followed by multihulls (12). There were no real glitches, or incidents, as the crews dodged longtail fishing boats and their lines. The fleet head north, leaving Koh Phanak and Koh Na Ka Ya to port before rounding the first mark, northeast of Koh Yai, to starboard and then passing Hin Mot Daeng to port and Koh Batang to starboard before finishing off of Koh Kudu Yai — approximately 17 nautical miles in length.

Day 2 2nd February 2018 Again, James had two starts — monos then multis. No major incidents to report, just a lovely, clear spinnaker run down Phang Nga Bay. The 20nm course left from east of Koh Yao Noi, rounded to starboard Koh Pang, passing Koh Pak Bia, and then past Koh Ka to starboard through the gate at Koh Heng (keeping the committee boat to port), then rounding Koh Ngang to port before passing between Koh Deng and Koh Samet and finally finishing between the committee boat and Koh Ya Man.

Day 3 3rd February 2018 The boats sailed a combination of courses around the local islands, including the Koh Dam group also known as Chicken Island due to a rocky formation that looks very muck like a chicken’s head. The start and finish lines were set near Ao Nang Bay. The party that night was held at the five-star ShellSea Resort, part way up the estuary to Krabi Town.

Day 4 4th February 2018 Racers started early off Ao Nang for a final trip around the islands before a spectacular blast down to a gate / finish line at the end of Koh Yao Yai and from there to Phuket’s Ao Chalong Bay (22nm). This year it proved to be a blistering affair in strong winds. The record was broken by Fagazi, the custom trimaran skippered by owner-builder Danny Moore. They did the course (including a loop around the islands) in 02:06, adding to their tally of line honours in the other three races.

The four-boat Racing Class was already decided before the final race as Sergey Khamstov’s Megazip won the title for the second year, earning three 1sts and a 2nd for a fivepoint score over the four-day event. Steve Manning’s Red Rum took 2nd spot, with 11 points. Vitalii Plaksin’s Uminoko and Gary Baguley’s Fujin were next, tied at 12 points apiece, but Uminoko took 3rd as a result of winning the class on Day 1.

In the Cruising A class, Niels Degenkolw and his all-women team took 1st in every race except when they finished 2nd in Day 3, thereby keeping Niels’ ‘invincibility streak’ going, 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 at Phuket’s Vachira Hospital. Sitting in Phoenix for a four-day regatta can’t be easy. Max Palleschi’s Prime Factor took 2nd overall and, with Stanislav Pechenkin’s Russian crew, Southern Breeze 3 came in 3rd.

Cruising B was won by the all-Thai crew of Marigold, skippered by Ket Mangklaseranee. They turned three 1st place finishes into a convincing overall lead. Mig Wehrle’s Aqua came in 2nd overall with the regatta’s youngest sailor — three-month old Lucas — on board. Paul Baker’s Isabella, Greg Brennan’s Toot Yai (translated Big Butt), and Woodrow Christensen’s Linda finished 3rd, 4th and 5th, respectively.

The Bareboat Class ended up going to George Brown’s Kinnon as Denis Aksenov’s Venture was asked to ‘retire’ during the final race due to an improper sail. The Ventures were very good sports about it and even congratulated Kinnon with a standing ovation during the final ceremony. Russell Waddy’s Allsail Kingsman and Andrew McDermott’s Fei Jian were 3rd and 4th overall in this division.

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 4th overall. They even set a course record for the final Krabi-Phuket leg (2:06). 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 1st overall in this 10-boat class, Alan Carwardine’s Asia Catamarans Hurricane came 2nd and George Eddings on Blue Nose was 3rd.

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

The closing party and prizegiving was held at Kan Eang 2 Restaurant, with an enormous buffet and live music provided.

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