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Phantom V wins Multihull Solutions Regatta in Phuket

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PHOTOS: Phuket Yacht Club

The 2019 Multihull Solutions Regatta has been run and won after the final day of excellent racing conditions off southern Phuket.

The Stealth catamaran Phantom V with its boat builders Alan Carwardine and Roger Diggleman on board, as well as owner Andrew Hurford, won the Racing Multihull Division of the 2019 Multihull Solutions Regatta. Its four first-place finishes, while never finishing lower than third, helped Phantom V clinch the title.

Warwick Downes’ Bonza (the old Fugazi) flew around the course all regatta earning line honours on most of its races but had to settle for second overall though it did win two races during the event.

On the final day, Dan Fidock’s new Fugazi (a Bakewell White 10.5) shed its teething problems as it romped through the water like a bat out of hell earning line honours (and second overall) in race one crossing the finish line in 1:35:29 after it sailed out around Koh Bon and then Koh Loh before turning for home at the Phuket deep port safe water mark. It also won race two on the day for the Racing Multis, a three-lap windward-leeward giving the boat its first victory of the regatta.

Phantom V wins Multihull Solutions Regatta in Phuket | News by The ThaigerPhantom V wins Multihull Solutions Regatta in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Glyn Rowlands’ Twister 2 who featured three generations on board finished fourth and if not for a FPSA on race three might have even placed higher. Dirk Weiblen’s No Fear came last in the five-boat division but a combination of DNSs and DNFs saw it only start three of the seven races held in the Racing Multis.

The Firefly division was a Battle Royale from the get-go between arch-rivals Twin Sharks and Voodoo as only a point separated them going into the final day of racing. And fittingly, it was all decided on the last race when Twin Sharks managed to push Voodoo into fourth place with a port vs starboard incident on the downward leg of the last lap enabling Twin Sharks to move into second place in the race and grab the title.

George Eddings’ Blue Noze was in the midst of it all throughout the regatta winning one race and taking third overall. Rau Waldron’s Surf Patrol finished the regatta with a strong performance winning the last race but placed fourth overall, followed by Marc Chapus and his crew on Moto Inzi, who never really did get over their teething problems finishing last in the majority of the races.

Zam Bevan’s ShoVel won all its races in the Cruising Multihull division but its sole competitor Bill Kane’s The Sting was granted “the perseverance trophy” for its “never say die” attitude during the event.

The 2020 Multihull Solutions Regatta will be held from July 10-13. Contact title sponsor Andrew de Bruin at andrew@multihullsolutions.asia if interested in chartering a multihull.

Phantom V wins Multihull Solutions Regatta in Phuket | News by The ThaigerPhantom V wins Multihull Solutions Regatta in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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Opinion

Two years ago – remembering Phuket’s Phoenix boat tragedy

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Two years ago – remembering Phuket’s Phoenix boat tragedy | The Thaiger

“There were 13 children that died in this disaster. Many were later found dead, floating face down, not far from their deceased parents.”

On an otherwise ordinary afternoon, two tour boats, Phoenix and Serenata, were heading back to Phuket after a half day tour of snorkelling near Koh Racha. The weather forecast was for seasonal monsoonal SW winds and waves, about the usual for that time of the year.

But there was also a weather warning for a storm later in the afternoon of July 5, 2018. For whatever reasons the captains of the two vessels started heading back to Phuket despite the warnings or perhaps in full ignorance of them. Even a look to the SW horizon would have indicated some poor weather was on the way.

Two years ago - remembering Phuket's Phoenix boat tragedy | News by The Thaiger

The tour boat Phoenix, as it appeared in promotional websites

Zheng Lancheng had travelled from China with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and 18 month old granddaughter for a trip to the tropical southern Thai island. Phoenix was carrying 101 passengers – 89 tourists, all but 2 were Chinese, 11 crew and a tour guide.

As the boats were off Koh Hei, south west of Phuket, a storm front, now looming large as it approached (a radar screenshot had even been posted by The Thaiger about 30 minutes before the tragedy), reached the two boats whipping up waves. The height of the waves was reported to be up to 5 metres by the Captain of Phoenix (but were more likely around 3 metres).

A boat of the size of Phoenix, in capable hands, should have handled the conditions, whilst uncomfortable for the passengers, with relative ease.

But Phoenix wasn’t just a standard purpose-built 29 metre diving boat. It had some major design and construction flaws which would contribute to the death toll on the day. Loose concrete blocks had been placed into the boats bilge to provide ballast and stability. These concrete blocks would shift as the boat started capsizing and make a bad situation worse. The boat had one watertight door, it should have had four. And the windows, smashing when the water hit them, were not marine-grade glass.

More about the boat’s shortcomings HERE.

Mr. Zheng and his family didn’t know what was going on. The boat was ‘shaking’ and passengers, although remaining silent, were ‘clearly frightened’. Suddenly the boat started lurching and tipping over. People started screaming. Most were still below decks because of the rain. Few were wearing life vests or bouyancy vests. Mr. Zheng, above decks with his family, held on to his wife but her knee had been injured. Suddenly he was in the water. Eventually many of the survivors would be found to be wearing non-compliant bouyancy vests.

He later told police there was no warning, no advice from crew beyond ‘Get out’.

Other witness reports say that the Thai crew and Captain, all saved on the day, were the first to get off the boat leaving more than half the passengers below decks and many other floundering around in the water.

Mr. Zheng struggled onto one of the life rafts, dragged in by other bewildered passengers. By this stage the boat had sunk.

“There were no words between any of us in the rubber boat. All of us were stunned. We could only hear the sounds of the sea.”

Mr Zheng said if they had known there would be a big rubber boat floating around after their boat sank, they might have first put on life vests and jumped in the vicinity to be saved.

“However, we knew nothing about it. No one gave us any warnings or guidance.”

There were 13 children that died in this disaster. Many were later found dead, floating face down, not far from their deceased parents. In total, 47 people died as a result of the Phoenix sinking.

The other boat, Serenata, had also sunk off Koh Mai Thon but its 42 passengers were all rescued.

In the days following there were countless missteps and mishandling by Thai officials and politicians. Among them the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan pushing the blame onto the boat’s ‘real’ owners saying the situation was just “Chinese killing Chinese”, alluding to the early revelation that the boat was really owned and funded by Chinese who merely had a Thai ‘shelf’ company to comply with the law.

“Some Chinese use Thai nominees to bring Chinese tourists in. They did not heed warnings, which is why this incident happened. This needs to be remedied,” Prawit said.

But what warnings? The boat had been ticked off, approved and registered by Thai Authorities. Clearly unsuitable for its designed purposes, the vessel had been able to conduct tours with paying customers – all under the watch of Thai marine officials. For all the finger pointing and shifting of blame, the cause of the deaths lay fairly and squarely at the feet of the Thai authorities, the Thai Captain and Thai crew who had it within their entire control to avoid the loss of life.

Then, the final insult, as the Thai Government tries to auction off the wreck of Phoenix saying they needed to pay for the storage fees at the Rasada shipyard where the broken relic still sits.

Read our editorial about the auction HERE.

Two years later and the fallout can be properly measured. Probably the most obvious is the drop in Chinese tourism (which was already languishing before the coronavirus pandemic stated). Chinese social media savaged the handling of the entire Phoenix ‘situation’ and was candid in recommending that Chinese tourists avoid Phuket and Thailand in the future. And that, in part, has happened.

Phuket’s Chinese tourist flow dropped dramatically, up to 30-50% year on year (based on hotel bookings, tour bookings and airport arrivals). There was also a drop in Chinese patronage for the rest of Thailand although the Thai government stepped up measures to keep the numbers rolling on, including the waiver of the visa-on-arrival fee and special ‘Chinese only’ immigration queues.

From a media point of view, Phuket largely ‘dodged a bullet’ as the world’s media was focused on the ongoing drama at Tham Luang Caves, luckily with a much happier ending (the rescue of the 13 young men from the caves in Chiang Rai). The Phoenix boat tragedy was not as widely reported as it would have been normally.

But Phuket’s reputation had been wounded. The stench of the unnecessary 47 deaths has tarnished the island’s ‘tropical playground’ sales point and will hang over the island for years, especially in the minds of Chinese visitors.

Last year the Phuket Governor said there would be no memorial for the 47 lost lives “because no one wants one”. He also told The Phuket News last year that the Chinese government and Chinese tourists now had more confidence in the safety of tourism in Phuket because the number of Chinese tourists travelling to Phuket has increased steadily after the incident (but never reached anywhere near the same popularity).

His misinformed comment, unchallenged by Thai reporters, bore no resemblance to the facts or explained hotel occupancies in Phuket sitting at record lows and the absence of the earlier throngs of Chinese travellers pre-Phoenix disaster.

Tow years later, the weather in Phuket is fine, with moderate winds, cloudy skies and a temperature of 31 – a perfect day for a tour off Phuket’s coast to one of the many, many islands (except there are very few boats running at the moment).

Now Phuket faces an existential threat to its tourist business – a tiny virus that has shut down the island’s tourism almost completely – that will be even more complex to survive than the Phoenix boat disaster. But the island has survived numerous hits in the past and, somehow, is able to rebuild following the disruptions.

Two years after that fateful day off the south east coast of the island Phuket is a very quiet place indeed.

Two years ago - remembering Phuket's Phoenix boat tragedy | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Today is Asanha Bucha Day – Why is the day special for Thai Buddhists?

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Today is Asanha Bucha Day – Why is the day special for Thai Buddhists? | The Thaiger

Asanha Bucha Day is a special Buddhist holiday in Thailand marking the day when the Lord Buddha delivered his first sermonat Benares in India over 2,500 years ago. The exact date of the holiday is determined by the waxing moon and the lunar months, but is usually held in July or August each year. In 2020 it falls on July 5. Today is also the start of the period of Buddhist Lent.

A moon that is waxing is one that is getting larger each night, between the new moon and full moon phase.

Because this years’ Asanha Bucha Day falls on a weekend day, Monday, July 6 has been named as a public holiday across Thailand. There is also an alcohol ban that lasts until midnight on Monday night.

The Buddha preached his first sermon at a deer park and from this sermon the Dharma (doctrine) of the Buddha was symbolised as a wheel. The Dharmachakra is also known as the Wheel of Life, Wheel of Law or Wheel of Doctrine and can be seen on flags in temples and buildings all across Thailand. Similarly, pictures or models of deer can often be seen at temples or in depictions of the Buddha.

Like many other Buddhist festivals and holidays, Asahna Bucha (also written as Asalha Puja and other English equivalents) is a day when Thai Buddhists will make merit and visit the local wat. Traditionally, candles are amongst the items donated to the wat for Asahna Bucha and processions featuring candles are held at various towns in Thailand.

The tradition dates back to the times before electricity where extra light was needed at the temple during the darker days of the rainy season. Local people will also ‘wian tian’ which involves walking around the wat with a lit candle, lotus flowers and incense. The day after Asahna Bucha is another significant day with Wan Khao Phansa marking the start of the three-month ‘Phansa’ period which is sometimes referred to as ‘Buddhist Lent’.

Today is Asanha Bucha Day - Why is the day special for Thai Buddhists? | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pinterest

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Events

Online “Global Pride” marks 50th anniversary of gay pride movement

Jack Burton

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Online “Global Pride” marks 50th anniversary of gay pride movement | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Barron's

Half a century after the first Gay Pride march, the world’s LGBT community and its supporters took many of their events online yesterday in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although some activists still took to the streets to mark the event, much of the movement’s focus was channelled into Global Pride, a 24 hour online event broadcast live online.

One of the biggest events in the Gay Pride calendar, London Pride, was a major victim of the new restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic. Online events replaced it under the slogan: “Postponed, but still united.” Some events were broadcast on the giant screen in Piccadilly Square and London’s mayor tweeted his support, saying “We may be apart, but we are still united, as neighbours, as allies, and as one city.”

68 year old veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, wearing a rainbow coloured mask, led a group of 12 fellow activists to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the London Gay Liberation Front.

“We are seeking to reclaim Pride as an event for LGBT and human rights.”

Police in Berlin estimated that around 3,500 people turned out to march, in temperatures of around 30°C. German foreign minister Heiko Maas tweeted a message of support to the Global Pride event…

“Be proud of yourself! No matter who you love, no matter where you live.”

In Vienna, some 200 cars and motorbikes decked with rainbow flags and inflatable unicorns paraded down the city’s famous Ringstrasse. Organisers say around 5,000 people turned out to watch the scaled-down event. The city’s Rainbow Parade, which usually attracts hundreds of thousands, was otherwise replaced by online events.

The online Global Pride event, running with the slogan “Exist, persist, resist,” got underway at 0500 GMT in London. Put together by the organisers of several of the major Gay Pride events around the world, it aimed to attract hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

Former US president Barack Obama released a video message saluting the gay New Yorkers who rioted at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations, effectively launching the modern gay rights movement. The first Gay Pride march was held in 1970 in New York to mark the first anniversary the Stonewall riots.

“Because of the movement they sparked and the decades of work that followed, marriage equality became the law of the land five years ago and just this month the Supreme Court ruled that employers can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ workers.”

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden issued his own video, in which he referred to the recent Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the rights LGBT workers.

SOURCE: Barron’s

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