On day one of the main event of the Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, sailed at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, the contrast between the European teams, and the Asian teams was obvious for anybody who could count.
Close finish Between Team Korea and Team Eriksson - Asia took that win - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
With only a limit on crew numbers, the much bigger European sailors would clearly have had a major advantage in the breezy conditions under which the event was sailed. However the event was held under the rules which are becoming the norm in Asia, that teams could be either four or five, as long as they were below 350 kg total weight. This allowed teams which included smaller Asian sailors, very often women, to compete on equal terms with the overseas teams.
The results from the first day of the Thailand day showed that the concept fully worked. Two examples were, Christopher Lim’s Singaporean team with two guys and three girls, and Team EM Thailand (two guys, two girls and a junior) were both right on the weight limit and were a serious threat to any of their competitors. The Singaporean team also demonstrated some of the slickest crew work seen on the racecourse, and was the only team who beat worlds number two Team Sweden skippered by Bjorn Hansen. Also the winners of Friday's Warm-up event - Team Korea - chose to sail five up (all guys), and nobody underestimated this team after Fridays Warm-up event win, despite their world ranking as number 840.
Undoubtedly, the Asian match race teams wish the 'Asian' team weight rules would be applied world-wide, as it would allow them to travel as a team and be competitive wherever they go. There is also no doubt this would allow more mixed gender teams to be competitive in open match race events.
The top teams after the first day of the two day Championship event were – by win percentage:
Team / Skipper/World ranking Wins/Races sailed - Win %
Sweden/Bjorn Hansen/number two 5/6 83 %
Team Singapore/Maximilian Soh / number 147 4/5 80 %
Team Estonia/Mati Sepp/number 26 3/5 60 %
Team EM Thailand/Morten Jakobsen/number 126 As above As above
Team Singapore II, Chris Lim/number 238 As above As above
The true heroes of the day were, however, the persons who normally receive little recognition – Race officer Neil Dunkley and the RVYC Race Team, together with the Umpires Piero Orchetto from Italy, Abhimanyu Patankar (Pat) from India, M.C. from Singapore, Rut Subrinan from Thailand and also the head of boat repair – Kev Scott. The whole team worked extremely hard, and saved the event after unforeseen happenings early in the day made the challenging event schedule seem impossible to complete. To complete 26 matches under those conditions was a herculean task, and they did not leave small issues as lack of daylight stop the proceedings. The spectators wondered towards the end of the day if they would have to fit lanterns on the raceboats for the last race.
This leaves an extremely exciting racing for tomorrow Sunday, which is the final day of the event. The battle between Maximilian and Bjorn to try to top the scoreboard will be epic; neither team can afford to lose any races if they want to be in contention for the top spot, and also the three teams just below on the score sheet, will be desperate for more wins to bring them to the top of that group, and onto the winner’s podium.
Team France showing fighting spirit in their battle against worlds #2 Bjorn Hansen - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
Team EM thailand show which team members maintain the highest energy level - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
Dusk - what dusk? - Matchrace after dark - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
Team Eriksson, Finland show what this sport is all about - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
Flight 13.....rather late in the day - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day
Team Singapore II; Team of 5 - Bow woman in charge right now - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals, First day