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Regatta challenged by fickle winds

May 31, 2011

Some 30 craft, from nine countries divided into four classes, sailed off Samui’s Chaweng Beach yesterday to take principal race officer Simon James’ starting sequences to signal the opening gambit in the week-long 10th Sawadee.com Regatta 2011.

It was a typical tropical island scenario: clear skies, light south-westerlies, tending more west and a promise of some close, exciting racing.

Yet, a curious phenomenon occurred at the end of the first race: the south-westerly was blowing at around 15-20 knots inshore but out at sea – just some three nautical miles away – there was not enough wind to start a second race until late afternoon.

After two races, the Racing Class evolved into a close struggle between current Samui champion Aussie Ray Roberts and top contender, Hong Kong-based New Zealander, Neil Pryde.

However, both gave way to the new kid on the block, Johannes Waimer, sailing out of the UAE, who won the just-completed Top of the Gulf Regatta and could do likewise this time.

At the end of the day, Johannes’ Team Premier was on three points, one ahead of Neil and three ahead of Hong Kong Sam Chan’s Freefire, with Ray Roberts’ Evolution Racing back in fourth place, just ahead of Hong Kong’s Frank Pong.

There was also fierce competition in the IRC 1, with Aussie Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, a consistent performer in Asian waters, just one point ahead of Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth EFG Bank Mandrake, with Hong Kong’s Rick Pointon’s Jing Jing, third on seven points.

Hong Kong’s Greg Coops, Abraxus led the IRC 2/Cruising Class, with two wins for 2 points, three ahead of Peter Herning, sailing out of the Jomtien Ocean Marina on his Bavaria 42, Kirafiki, equal second on five points with Jean Rheeault’s Thai entry Souay 1.

A similar pattern developed in the Multihull Racing Class, with northerners, Radab Kanjanavanit (Royal Varuna YC, Pattaya), leading the pack, with two firsts, leaving Kirati Assakul (Ocean Marina) and erstwhile champion, Phuket’s Henry Kaye, equal second on five points.

The Samui Regatta set up by John Stall and Bill Gasson a decade ago has now, under the entrepreneurship of Callum Laing, developed into a life-style event, incorporating a super-car rally, a golf tournament, a swim-wear fashion show and a property expo., super-imposed on a week of partying around the island.

The Optimist fleet, too, will have their day of fun and glory with a separate championship during the regatta, in addition to a beach clean-up to provide support for Samui’s fragile environment, from all involved in the 2011 regatta.

The racing continues today for all four classes.

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