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Phuket Raceweek gets off to a lively start

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Phuket Raceweek gets off to a lively start | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The 2012 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek got off to a lively start last night with the opening party attracting over 500 guests.

With thirty-four boats registered, competing over seven classes and divisions, day one looked looked set for some good competition as predicted winds of 10-12 knots gusting to 15, arrived on cue.

Race Officer Simon James announced Windward/Leewards (Course 2) for IRC Racing, Firefly One-Design and Multihull Racing, while IRC Cruising and Classics were sent on longer round-the-islands courses – Course 13 and Course 19 respectively.

The 13-strong IRC Racing fleet is split into three divisions: IRC Racing I, Sportsboats and IRC Racing II. All three divisions were on the startline together as the Race Officer got the Regatta underway. The all-new Katsu (Ben Copley), an Aquila Reichel Pugh 45 built in China, was the one to watch and they took an early lead off the line in Race 1. Katsu lead upwind and downwind, rounding the leeward mark ahead of Wan Marang (Kevin Whitcraft) in second and Jing Jing (Rick Pointon) in third.

Katsu continued to lead around the course in Race one and secured line honors, only to lose out on handicap to Jing Jing who sailed a solid race. Wan Marang finished in third only 25 seconds behind Katsu on corrected time.

Katsu got off to a poor start in Race two, fearing OCS she ducked back behind the fleet as the rest bunched at the pin-end of the line. On the downwind leg Katsu had made up some ground on the fleet and rounded in second close behind Wan Marang. However, Wan Marang managed to hold off Katsu’s charge to take line honors but lost out on handicap to Jing Jing who took their second bullet of the day.

In the Sportsboats class, the Welbourn 25 Brace Brace Brace (Paul Murphy) led the fleet around the course to take line honors while Surf Patrol (Ray Waldron) and Longitude (Rolf Heemskerk) had a close on-water battle matching each other tack for tack. At the first leeward mark rounding, a poor spinnaker drop by Longitude saw Surf Patrol sneak past and go on to beat Longitude around the course and also on corrected time.

In Race two, Brace Brace Brace made a good start and took an early lead. Surf Patrol and Longitude continued their ‘Battle Royale’ racing within a few boat lengths of each other around the course. Brace Brace Brace stretched their lead and took both line honors and the handicap win making it two from two on the first day.

In IRC Racing II, seven closely-matched boats and a number of regional regatta winners with crews from all over the world lined up at the start. Competition was expected to be tough and the racing was close. Regatta regular Skandia Endeavour of Whitby (Stuart Williamson), took the first win on corrected time from line honors-winner Ruby Tuesday (John Vause). Third place went to Phoenix (Niels Degenkolw), with only four minutes separating the top three on corrected time.

Stuart Williamson and his crew on the Bermudian Sloop Skandia Endeavour of Whitby continued their winning ways in Race two with a win in the second race from Phoenix who switched places with Ruby Tuesday.

IRC Cruising were set on Course 13: south around Bon Island and back around Lon Island to port, and on to the finish. Asia Marine Kinnon, skippered by local sailing stalwart Andy Dowden, got the best start leading the fleet off the line. However, the Oceanis 423 Dreamtime (Rob Azzopardi) soon find their way and moved to the front of the pack to race off and secure line honors and the win on corrected time. The well-known Sparkman & Stephens design Remington (Jim Ellis) placed second ahead of Sail in Asia (Mike Downard) in third.

Five boats lined up for the Firefly One-Design class, including winner of the recent Phuket Multihull Regatta Voodoo (Hans Rahmann). True to form, Voodoo lead off the line with Twin Sharks (John Newnham) close behind. The Frog (Neil Ayre) tacked early with Twin Sharks following and Voodoo covering. As they rounded the leeward mark for the first time, there was a traffic jam as The Frog, Twin Sharks, and Phoenix (IRC Racing II) battled for position on-the-water. Voodoo went on to win the race and set the standard for the rest of the one-design Firefly’s to beat. Moto Inzi (Roger Kingdon) finished second and Twin Sharks third.

After a last place in the first race, Premier Cru (Peter Dyer) got off to the best start in Race 2 for the Firefly One-Design class but lost ground on the course as Voodoo, Moto Inzi and Twin Sharks powered past to finish 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

A highly competitive fleet of six multihulls registered for the Multihull Racing class. The much anticipated newly-launched Stealth 11.8 Cat ‘Hurricane’ (Alan Carwardine) suffered damage on the way to the anchorage the day before and scored a DNS. Sweet Chariot (Henry Kaye) and DaVinci (Mark Pescott) surprised the rest of the class with a dash from behind to lead off the start at the pin-end. However, Miss Saigon (David Liddell) soon made up ground and lead on the approach to the downwind mark. A poor spinnaker drop saw Sweet Chariot round first and go on to claim line honors. DaVinci forced Miss Saigon wide as they approached the finish and the two crossed together. However, on corrected time, DaVinci took the bullet ahead of Charro (Damien Kimball) and Nina (Rob Cullen).

In Race two, Sweet Chariot again got the better start and seasoned skipper Henry Kaye went on to put space between them and the rest of the class. Sailing well, Kaye and his crew secured another line honors but lost out to in-form DaVinci on corrected time, while Niña again finished third.

The four-strong Classic class stretched their legs on a single islands course: around the southern islands of Hae (Coral Island) and Aeo. Classic boat racing is a rare sight in Asia and Classics is a class that has been well supported at the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek since the Regatta’s inception.

The stunning Hans Christian 38T McBob the Boat (Joe Gruba) took line honors today but was beaten on corrected time by Sirius (Simon Morris), who after racing for almost three hours beat the grand dame of the fleet, Seraph (Captain Bao), by only 30 seconds on corrected time.

Winners were presented their trophies at a beachside prize-giving and party at the Cape Panwa Hotel. Races continue tomorrow.

The Phuket Gazette and PGTV are media partners of The 2012 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek.

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Tourism

Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied?

The Thaiger

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Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied? | The Thaiger

Culminating 2 weeks of mass confusion over the apparent mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals to Phuket from Bangkok and other high risk provinces, Phuket’s provincial communicable disease committee has agreed to lift the mandatory 14 day quarantine “to help boost the local economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

But for the vast majority of arrivals from Bangkok (DMK and BKK) to Phuket there wasn’t even any mention of quarantine. Over the past 2 weeks, since Phuket’s Governor released a 3 page announcement about new restrictions for the island, people have mostly been coming and going as usual. The only additional impediments were all arrivees having to download and fill in the Mor Chana app and registering with gophuget.com.

In 2 weeks not a single person has reported to The Thaiger that they had been forced to self-quarantine. Last night, when checking in at Suvarnabhumi airport for a Thai VietJet flight to Phuket, the person at the Check-In counter told the passenger (we’ll call them Mic to protect their identity) they would have to serve 14 days in state quarantine upon arrival in Phuket. Mic, surprised, asked for some sort of confirmation of this from airline management or information from the Phuket Provisional officials. None was forthcoming. Nothing more was said or communicated to the passengers.

When the plane landed in Phuket officials checked that passengers had completed the Mor Chana app and scanned their phones after they’d completed the gophuget.com registration. And that was it. No mention of quarantine.

The situation has been repeated by other Thaiger staff over the past 2 weeks as well, but without any mention of quarantine during the check-in or boarding procedures with various airlines. In all cases they flew from Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang airports.

Phuket’s Governor Narong Woonciew says the decision to ease the Covid-19 restrictions for visitors followed calls from the business community seeking to lure visitors to Phuket. (The Thaiger wonders if any of these officials had actually travelled over the past 2 weeks)

Local businesses met with provincial authorities on Friday proposing an end to the mandatory quarantine period “for people travelling from certain high-risk areas” in the hope of “stimulating the tourism industry”. The proposal was less about stimulating and more about raising the industry from its current flatline.

But whatever mandatory quarantine they were asking to be lifted appears to be have been, at best, loosely applied anyway.

Phuket has has a triple hit. The first when the borders were closed in April and the international airport closed. The second was when December arrived, the start of the busy tourist high-season. The third was the new restrictions added 2 weeks ago in response to the 2nd wave of clusters that started on December 20, tripling the total number of Covid infections in the country in just over a month.

According to Bangkok Post, Sarayuth Mallum, president of the Phuket travel industry council, says… “strict disease control measures remain necessary to protect local people and tourists from contracting the virus”.

Somehow, the mandatory quarantine requirement instructions never reached the airport officials. But, for now anyway, the “restrictions” have been lifted anyway. What was you experience arriving in Phuket over the past week? Were you asked to conduct a mandatory 14 day self-quarantine?

In the meantime the struggling domestic airlines have been forced to massively cancel or reschedule flights. Over the past 2 days most airlines only had 1 or 2 flights to and from Phuket and Bangkok, down from the 4 – 10 daily flights some airlines were offering.

More about the Mor Chana App here…

More about the direct effects on the island of Phuket…

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident

The Thaiger

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Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident | The Thaiger

A national park officer has been fired after being accused of spying on a woman in the public toilet on January 17 at Phuket’s Sirinath National Park. 28 year old Abdulrama Mahaderi, was accused by a woman named Sopita and her boyfriend Panupong Rungrueng of climbing a wall that separates the men’s and women’s sections of the toilet at Nai Yang beach in order to look at Sopita. Abdulrama allegedly also had his mobile phone in his hand.

Sirinath National Park Chief Pramote Kaewnam confirmed that an investigative committee had spoken to witnesses and determined that Abdulrama was guilty of “misbehaviour and improper actions.”

Pramote confirmed that Abdulrama’s employment contract was then terminated, effective last Wednesday, 3 days after the incident allegedly took place. On its Facebook page, the Sirinath National Park made a post about the incident.

“It has caused disgrace to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and affected the image of the overall department.”

Sura Lertthaisong of Sakhu Police confirmed that Abdulrama would be facing charges and that he was currently investigating whether a charge of “bullying in public” under Section 397 of the Criminal Code would be appropriate.

Abdulrama had previously posted on the official Sirinath National Park Facebook page that his understanding was that no charges would be pursued by Sopita and Panupong.

“The tourists told me that they did not want to press charges. They just told me that they did not want me to do anything like this again.”

But after Panupong posted a photo of Abdulrama, detailing his alleged indiscretion on social media, others came forward with similar accusations.

“One group of women said that they were also spied on by this man on the toilet wall 2 months ago, but they did not report it and did not press charges – and the truth faded away as if nothing ever happened.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket wants Bangkok arrivals to skip quarantine to help tourism revenue

The Thaiger

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Phuket wants Bangkok arrivals to skip quarantine to help tourism revenue | The Thaiger

Phuket’s tourism representatives are calling for an end to the mandatory quarantine levied at tourists arriving to the province from Bangkok. The tourism delegation have also told Phuket’s provincial government to be prepared to start receiving international tourists starting in October.

According to The Phuket News, such a plan would include a requirement for all international travellers to Thailand to have the Covid-19 vaccine. By that time, it is expected that Phuket will have 70% of its population vaccinated, with the timeline possibly being sped up by the province planning to buy the vaccines with its own funds. Such a move would bypass the national government’s timeline with the hopes of innoculating registered residents quicker. Governor Narong says such quarantine measures in place currently are preventing the province from profitting off domestic tourism.

“Phuket has been hit hard by the 2nd epidemic. Thai tourists do not come because they do not want to quarantine and follow the difficult steps to enter the province, not to mention there are no foreign tourists at this time.”

In a meeting, the PTA President Bhummikitti, said the Covid-19 vaccine was “the last ticket and the last hope” for Phuket tourism, “because Phuket tourism has no way out at this time.”

“Thai people are unable to travel due to the second outbreak, and foreign tourists are not to be mentioned at all. Vaccines are the hope of the Phuket tourism sector.”

“The private sector wants to get clarity from the government whether we can follow this plan or not, because if it is left like this – open, close, lockdown and so on, as in the past – local businesses are all dead.”

Bhummikitti pointed out that the government had promised to work with local industry on all matters related to Covid-19 and keeping the local economy alive. He said that the move would “allow tourism and the Phuket economy to be able to walk once more from having fewer Thai tourists.”

Governor Narong said tracking systems will be in place when tourists do come back to the province.

“In order to ensure tourists that Phuket citizens as well as incoming tourists are safe from the Covid-19 virus, there will be a tracking system, and a fund established to be used as a remedy [sic] to help those affected if there is an infection from incoming tourists.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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