by Chris Dando
Match Race Thailand Open National 2013. After a frantic overnight repair session by Kevin Scotts to get all boats and sails back in order, the racing started in a good breeze of March 3 with some troubling looking cloud brewing over the land.
Storm is coming: Team Korea vs Team Soh - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
First race signal of the day was at 10 am sharp and all looked good until the second lap when a storm front rapidly devoured the racecourse with the wind up to 25 knots and the heavy downpour reducing visibility to no more than 10 meters.
The race officers had no choice but to abandon the races in progress and then bang! -- In the poor visibility, there was a crash! The mast of one boat broke and fell. Support boats were rapidly in attendance while the sailors on board showed excellent seamanship in managing to avoid further damage to the hull and all are safe when storm cleared out.
Despite one boat was down, the fight continued. Only two boats left for the race, the race committee and umpires rearranged the matches and restarted races when they were sure that the condition was safe. Bjorn Hanson (SWE) soon showed their expertise by winning their next three matches to establish a commanding lead. However their overnight challengers, Maximillian Soh (SIN) had not given up the fights and responded with two further wins.
Girls power, Team Lim (SIN) in third place - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
Behind the two leaders it was a three-way battle between Morten Jakobsen (THA), Mati Sepp (EST) and Christopher Lim (SIN.) Both Morten and Mati were up against Bjorn in their first matches on this final day. Bjorn managed a good win against Morten, however his match against Mati went down to the last few metres.
Team Soh (SIN) is jubilant for their Second place - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
The last run, Mati came down with a small lead over Bjorn but with a penalty against him. At the last minute he dropped his spinnaker and attempted a penalty turn as he crossed the line. Bjorn was rapidly heading to the same part of the finish line to close down the space.
Team Hansen (SWE)-- First prize winner and their Ocean Sunglasses - Matchrace Thailand Open Nationals 2013
He was just able to prevent Mati from completing his penalty turn thus scored an important win. Christopher Lim was getting into a higher gear and made no mistakes in a close fought match against Sergey Musikhin, skipper of Team Russia.
Team Eriksson’s seamanship after mast down - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
As this match was completed, another storm was building, this time it looked worse! For safety reason, the race officers and umpires made a difficult decision to close the event before all races were completed. All and all, it was an eventful Event and contained surprises at every turn.
After the scoring calculations were made the first five places were declared as:
1.)Sweden-Bjorn Hansen (8/ 9 for 89 percent)
2.)Singapore I-Maximillian Soh (5/6 for 83 percent)
3.)Singapore II-Christopher Lim (4/6 for 87 percent)
4.)Estonia-Mati Sepp (3/6 for 50 percent)
5.)EM Thailand-Morten Jakobsen (3/6 for 50 percent)
Down the mast KABOOM! - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
Despite the unhelpful weather, it was a great climax to three days of exciting sailing and racing here in Pattya, Thailand. The team line up this year was the best ever for Match Race Thailand which goes to show the growing recognition of Thailand as a match racing venue.
Downpour "Team Hong Kong vs Team French" - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
Moreover, it was the race that set the stage for European and Asian match racers to come together, to fight and share their experiences that will help growing match racing discipline in this part of the World.
Rainy Fight "Team Eriksson vs Team Lim" - Match Race Thailand Open Nationals 2013
Thank you Ocean Sunglasses for sponsoring their nice sunglasses for winning teams. Special thanks to the leader of the Organising Committee, Apple Asawawatanaporn, who worked non-stop to arrange the event, and to Royal Varuna Yacht Club for staging it.