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Phuket King's Cup 2019 – the final countdown

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 8 Dec 2019 09:23 PST 2-7 December 2019
Royal Awards - all the winners. Phuket King's Cup 2019 © Guy Nowell / Phuket King's Cup

Oh dear, more than a capful of breeze again this morning. Someone wound back the wind-o-meter last night, and there was 20kts and plenty more straight off the beach. The prospect of another long day of waiting - or even an abandonment - loomed. Over the last 20 years we have seen plenty of days lost to lack of breeze, but we can't remember when too much wind last spoiled the party. AP on shore, again.

PRO Ross Chisholm only needed to squeeze in one race (last day at King's Cup, latest warning signal 12.00) to round out the series, and the AP came down with intention to race at 12.00. All of a sudden, Kata Beach turned into Dunkirk, with sailors pouring out of the Ska Bar and lining up in the water for the longtails to take them afloat. Getting wet before you go sailing is just one of those things that makes the Phuket King's Cup a pleasantly unique event!

It's pretty sophisticated out there on the camera boat. When not being fire-hosed going upwind at 10 kts into 20 kts of breeze, we're hanging out at the top mark with Mr Spotify providing the vibes. This year's theme tune was Europe's 2009 hit, 'The Final Countdown', and now the damn thing is stuck in my head. However, it was appropriate yesterday, with Voodoo and Twin Sharks only one point apart with one race to go (winner takes all) and the top three Premier Cruisers separated by just two points.

Twin Sharks looked to have it all wrapped up on the final run to the finish. Having taken off from the windward mark at a lively 23kts, John Newnham said to the crew, "well done fellas, I think we've done it. Let's get just get this last gybe in..." Then there was a wineglass which called for another gybe in order to untwist it, and another to get back on course. Voodoo needed no second invitation, and went tearing past to win the race, level the score for the regatta, and take the overall on countback. Newnham was philosophical. "That was still be one of the best bits of sailing - ever. Truly fabulous breeze, just the right sea state, enough to make things interesting but not too much. If we could organise to do that every day, I'd be happy for ever. And congratulations to Hans Rahmann and his crew. We have been duelling for years now, and this King's Cup was the best yet."

The two lead boats in Premier Cruising - Antipodes and Shahtoosh - went into the day with 10 points apiece. Both of them are previous King's Cup winners, and both of them good horses to back for a win, which this time went to Geoff Hill and the Antipodeans. Sailing in 20 kts of breeze is very much what Antipodes likes best. "Windward-leeward racing is not really our bag," said Geoff Hill, "but the crew are experienced, enthusiastic, and capable of handling anything. It was a great performance round the cans tody, and we are very happy with our day win and the overall title." Shahtoosh came in second. As the big Warwick cruised past the camera boat, sodden and dripping at the windward mark, it was hard not to feel just a scrap envious of the crew a good ten feet up in the air above, and looking very dry!

Ray Roberts and Team Hollywood took home the top honours in IRC 0, with five wins from eight races. THA72 (Kevin Whitcraft), helmed by the diminutive Noppakao Poonpat, followed in second, and despite a blockbuster start on the first day's racing with two wins straight out of the gate, Windsikher faded into third place. The other two TP52s (both owned by Ray Roberts, incidentally) were never in the game at all.

Alexey Mashkin with his Megazip crew has been here several times. 2019 was clearly their year, as they scooped the IRC 1 title with three bullets and a set of all-podium places. Likewise, Morten Jakobsen sailing a sportsboat (VX One) in a keelboat division (IRC 2) was never off the podium, although some observers have questioned the appropriateness of racing a planing boat against displacement opposition.

The Multihull Racing class looked to be something of a resurrection at the start of the week, but somehow dissolved itself. Only one boat, Frankenstein, raced all the races on the card. Bonza collided with a TP52 after four races and went home, hurt. No Fear failed to live up to its name and sailed only three times in seven races. Blood Red (formerly Fugazi) and the current Fugazi stayed on anchor for the last race of the series, by which time Fugazi had laid claim to the division title with six bullets from six starts.

With 75 boats on the start line this year, the Phuket King's Cup remains the biggest keelboat regatta in Asia. This year's edition was definitely troubled by the weather, and ironically it was on account of too much wind, two days in a row. Nonetheless, looking at the final results and comparing them with known quantities and performances from previous years, the meteorology didn't skew the results; the good guys are still winning! The current global economic climate means that the après-racing scene is no the longer the blockbuster social event that it was eight or ten years ago, but with the accumulation of years some of us don't mind too much! One competitor asked how it was that a regatta could have 'dinners' without tables and chairs - and still attract competitors? The simple answer has to be that they are there for the competition, not the socials. Let's drink to that!

Standing by on 72, and looking forward to Phuket King's Cup 2020.

Full results at

Short Results:

IRC 0:
1. Team Hollywood 2,3,1,1,1,2,1,1 (9)
2. THA72 3,2,2,2,2,1,2,2 (13)
3. Windsikher 1,1,3,3,3,3,3 DNS (17)

IRC 1:
1. Megazip 2,1,3,1,3,2,2,1 (12)
2. Char Chan 5,5,2,6,1,3,1,3 (20)
3. Karasu 1,2,5,3,6,6,3,6 (26)

IRC 2:
1. Over Here 2,3,1,2,3,1,1,1 (11)
2. Madame Butterfly 1,1,2,1,2,3,3,DNF (13)
3. Judy 4,2,3,3,1,4,2,2 (17)

Premier Cruising:
1. Antipodes 3,1,1,2,4,3,2 (12
2. Shahtoosh 1,2,4,4,1,2,3 (13)
3. Pine-Pacific 2,3,3,3,DSQ,1,1 (13)

Bareboat A:
1. Jing Jing Too 2,4,2,1,2,1,1,5 (153)
2. Moonshine 1,5,1,2,3,5,2,1 (15)
3. Megan 3,2,3,6,1,2,4,2 (17)

Bareboat B:
1. Iyarada 4,3,1,1,2,4,1 (12)
2. Inlova 2,2,2,5,3,2,2 (13)
3. Hippocrates 1,1,DNF,7,1,3,7 (20)

Multihull Racing:
1. Fugazi 1,1,1,1,1,DNF (6)
2. Frankenstein 4,5,2,4,3,2,1 (16)
3. Blood Red 3,2,4,2,2,3, DNC (16)

Firefly 850 Sport:
1. Voodoo 2,2,2,2,1,1,1,1 (10)
2. Twin Sharks 1,1,1,1,2,2,2,2 (10)
3. Mamba 3,4,3,3,4,3,DNC,DNF (25)

Multihull Cruising:
1. Klook Star Trek 1,2,3,3,2,1 (9)
2. Da Vinci 2,1,1,4,3,3, (10)
3. Raptor 2001 4,4,2,2,1,2 (11)

1. Kata Rocks Sea Escapes 1,1,1,7,4,3,6 (16)
2. Night Train 2,4,5,2,2,5,1 (16)
3. Mermaid 3,6,6,4,9,1,2 (22)

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