Sprinkle ten superyachts across the bay, and it looks good every time. Include three Feadships in the mix, and the view just got better. Add a Royal Huisman, a Hoek, and a couple of traditional Indonesian phinisis, and you were probably hanging out at the Xana Beach Club at the Angsana Laguna, Phuket. On the last day of the annual Asia Superyacht Rendezvous, Bang Tao Bay was host to a grand total of 458m of super-luxury yachts, both sail and power.
Just not as much breeze as the day before, so a rather slow start to the second ‘race’ of the series, but Twizzle squeezed in at the boat end and then stayed on starboard, heading away from the coast. Yanneke 2, Shamoun and Asia all tacked onto port and got the advantage of a left shift that brought everyone back together at the top mark, even if some had sailed further than others to get there. Twizzle unrolled a mizzen staysail (’our secret weapon,’ confided the owner), but even this secret weapon was no good without breeze.
The race was abandoned before any boat had completed a lap of the triangular course, but it really didn’t matter. The Asia Superyacht Rendezvous is more about ‘being there’ than about racing and winning – and of course the motor yachts were only there to spectate anyway.
Next up – try to arrange all the yachts for a team photo. Getting nine big boats moving at exactly the same speed and exactly the same distance apart and precisely lined up is akin to herding kittens. RO Andy Dowden made a valiant attempt at it, and Phil from Helicam Asia said that yes he did all the boats in one shot, but the jury’s out on that!
When everyone had had enough of that, it was back to the beach for the hunt for Pirate Booty, aka the Rendezvous Treasure Hunt. After a great deal of rushing up and down Bang Tao beach, swimming after bottles containing clues, and plenty of cutlass-wielding and pirate-talking, it was the crew of m/y Callisto that scored the booty and then (in very un-pirate-like fashion) shared it out among the rest of the competitors, especially the youngsters from m/y Samax.
Last of all on the ASR menu was the Boat International Gala Dinner to round out the event, complete with baby elephant at the pre-dinner cocktail party. In a marquee on the beach, under velvety tropical skies, crew and guests alike wined and dined the evening away before sending up Chiang Mai lanterns to add a few more twinkles to the Milky Way and then repairing to the Xana Beach Club to carry on partying. It’s an exhausting business, this superyacht stuff, but I guess someone has to cover it!
All-in-all, it was delightful to see five sailing vessels present at this year’s Rendezvous. It’s greatl to see five such beautiful motor yachts as well, but this writer is just a tiny bit partial in these matters. s/y Silolona is well-known in Asian waters, and owner Patti Seery’s cruising charters through the Indonesian archipelago are practically legend. So how wonderful to be introduced to Si Datu Bua, Silolona’s little sister - 40m and just three staterooms, and every bit as charming and charismatic as Silolona. Of course, the welcome on board is also every bit as wonderful, with Tresno Seery, Patti’s son, in charge.
There’s no doubt that there are more and more superyachts finding their way to Asia, attracted by virgin cruising grounds and prices a great deal lower than in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Talking to Captains, we hear that a good many of them arrive via the Panama Canal and a trans-Pacific cruise, thus avoiding the problem of transit through the Gulf of Aden and passing through Somalia’s ‘pirate alley’. We also hear that superyachts coming to Asia are only too happy that the region is not stuffed to the doors with marinas – they would rather drop anchor for a night or two in a deserted bay than tie up in a Cote d’Azur marina that looks pretty much the same as the one they were in the night before.
Yacht Haven Marina – the only Phuket marina that can take the biggest superyachts hereabouts – has been full for the last year. And by full, we mean FULL. Ao Po Marina has been seeing increased business as a sort of overflow car park, with vessels being shuttled back and forth as the big boats get rearranged in order to make more room at the Yacht Haven.
We have been hearing about the imminent boom in superyacht activity in Asia for quite a long time, and now it seems that at long last it is coming to pass. All that’s needed is to entice another dozen or so of these Grand Dames of the sea around to the west coast of Phuket for a Christmas party – oh, and persuade then all to steam in a straight line and have their picture taken!
Well done to Asia-Pacific Superyachts for once again organising a classy event with which to kick off the Christmas season. Thanks to Feadship, Royal Huisman and all the other supporting sponsors for making it possible. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year, good cruising through 2013, and the prospect of another sparkling Asian Superyacht Rendezvous at the end of the year. Cheers!
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia
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7:13 AM Thu 27 Dec 2012GMT
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