Crucial day as the end is in sight...
Phuket King’s Cup Regatta 2011 - Switchblade, Katsu looking for room at the mark
If someone was looking at making an impression on the overall standings, today was the day to make their move. Two races today and possibly two races on the final day tomorrow is all what's left this year to get amongst the silverware. The leading yachts in some classes have placed themselves in an unbeatable position while other classes are still wide open for the taking. Heavy cloud cover reduced the North Easterly flow in the morning to 7-11 knots and by midday clocked around to the South then eventually into an afternoon sea breeze. In the racing class area the change was relatively quick but further up the coast the yachts on the cruising courses looked very sad as they limped around the course until the change eventually arrived.
The IRC Zero yachts are optimised for different wind strengths which is noticeable in the results. Initially the provisional results had Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and Hannes Waimer TP52 Team Premier trading first and second places. A protest lodged by Neil Pryde about a drifting mark came out in his favour which granted them first place and dropped Team Premier down to third in the second race. As a consequence Hi Fi moved into second overall and narrows into one point behind Team Premier at the top of the leaderboard. The subsequent appeal reversed the decision to the original results. A further reopening of the case is being sort as we write this report. Whatever happens there is everything to play for tomorrow and holding one or two races could possibly determine the outcome. At the afternoons press conference Neil Pryde said 'Like most sports as things start going your way the crews confidence level rises and his team are ready for the final races'.
Although David Ross' Ker 40 KukuKERchu continues to take line honours they are not far enough in front to claim handicap wins in the hotly contested IRC 1 class. Japan's Yasuo Nanamori's Summit King 40 Karasu and Steve Manning's Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 traded first and second places in the two races held today. This result extends Karasu overall lead and elevates Walawala 2 into second overall. Less than a minute on corrected time separates the top four yachts. Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Mills 40 EFG Bank Mandrake and KukuKERchu are currently tied on twenty points for third overall and could advance to second but it will take a catastrophe on Karasu for them to take over first place. Sadly three times defending champion Matt Allen's Ichi Ban are resigned to the fact that their run of victories has come to an end.
Four years in a row Royal Thai Navy 1 skippered by CPO.1 Wiwat Poonpat have dominated the IRC 2 class. Last year they narrowly missed out and this year they are determined to get back on the top of the podium. In past years they only came good towards the end and this year is no different. Second and first places today lifts them clear of second place by four points. Some downwind errors have eased Bill Bremner's Ker 32 Foxy Lady 5 down to second overall and they will have to put in a big final day to beat the navy. First and seventh places for Arbuzov Andrey's Russian team on Ruby Tuesday has brought them back into contention for a podium place and drops Peter Dyer's Humphrys 3/4 tonner Team Kata Rock down to fourth overall. In both races races less than a minute separated the first five boats and the results often belie the closeness of the racing.
In the Premier Cruising Class Richard Dobbs Swan 68 Titania of Cowes continued on their winning ways in the first race today and defending champion Peter Sorenson's Beneteau F53 Baby Tonga - Team Strongbow finally came good by winning the second race. Peter Forsythe & Jing Lee's X-55 Xena and Peter Cremers Warwick 60 Shahtoosh 2 figured in the placing's but comes a little late in proceedings to effect the overall places. Titania of Cowes still leads the overall standings and judging by their performance at the regatta so far it will be a game person to bet against them sailing off with the title.
The Cruising Class headed off on a passage race towards Patong Bay which turned into a four hour drift-a-thon. William Sax's Fraser 41 Astraeus eventually came out on top after Jack Cristensen's Bavaria 49 Linda claimed line honours and finished in second place. Third place for Aquacraft Asia's Hanse 545 Odin skippered by Rob Williams is only a slight setback as winning three races on the trot has them racing away with the title.
Two more wins for Aussie Mike Crisp's Hanse 400e Venture puts them at the top of the Bareboat Charter Class. After starting with a flourish Oliver Heer's Beneteau 47.7 Sail Plane has slipped down to second overall and will have to pull something out of the hat to stop Venture from grabbing the limelight. In third overall Maxim Taranov / Igor Skvortsov's Zola narrowly leads four other Russian boats in the race for the bronze medal.
After not finishing yesterdays race Nicholas Smith's Ericson 38 Freewind came out on fire and claimed the daily double in the Modern Classic Class by a country mile. Second place for Kevin Gillow's S&S 30 Poco lifts them into third overall. Peter Wood's Commanche 42 Windstar slotted into third place to stay in second overall. Fourth place for Bo Sondergaard's S&S 47 Patrice III is enough to keep a slim lead in the overall stakes but the juggling of places has allowed second and third placed boats to narrow in and take a big chunk out of their points.
In the Firefly 850 Sports one design class Hans Rahmann's Voodoo scored two more wins to be back on track to defend the title. Second and third places for Roger Kingdon's Moto Inzi has seen their overall lead reduced to one point and will have to go like a bat out of hell to stop Voodoo from overtaking them. Neil Ayre's The Frog overtakes John Newnham's Twin Sharks for third overall and are left to fight it out for the third podium place.
There seems to be no stopping Alan Carwardine's Stealth 12.6 Sidewinder from winning races and racing away with the Multihull Class title. Two second places for Andrew Stransky's Fantasia is an improvement and maybe in with a chance at the third podium place if the others slip up. Two third places for David Roberts Andaman Cabriolet Davinci skippered by Mick Coleman secures them second overall and some separation from David Liddell's defending champion Miss Saigon holding grimly onto third overall.
Tomorrow is the final day of racing for all classes followed by the Royal awards ceremony and gala closing party at the Kata Beach Resort & Spa.
More info and results on the 2011 King's Cup at: http://www.kingscup.com