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Phuket Raceweek expects big fleet to blow in

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PHUKET: The award-winning Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek is set to welcome a large multinational fleet of boats to its 10th edition, to be held July 17-21 at Cape Panwa Hotel off the Southeastern tip of the island.

Over the last 12 months, regattas around the region have experienced a decline in entries, however, Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek looks set to buck that trend with over 30 boats already signed up in six classes, and more than 400 sailors taking part.

“The entry line-up for 2013 is looking very strong,” said Mr. Byron Jones, Managing Director of Media Business Services (MBS), the event’s co-organiser.

“We are already pushing mid-30s and there are a number of boats we expect to register in the coming days. Our aim has always been to put sailors at the center of our decisions, and I believe news of the excellent venue and top quality on-water race management has spread, as we are seeing more chartered boats and international crews taking part this year, as well as retaining strong support from the local sailing community.”

A quality IRC fleet is shaping up, and depending on final entries, class splits will likely be IRC Racing I, IRC Racing II and IRC Cruising. Leading the fleet in length is the TP52 Team Premier, skippered by new owner and circuit veteran, Peter Ahern.

Having taken a hiatus from the Asian yachting scene, Ahern returned to Phuket Raceweek last year on the chartered Soto 30 Longitude, and this year he is upping the ante (and size). Team Premier is well known throughout the region having competed in and won many regattas, including the 2011 Phuket Raceweek, that time chartered and skippered by Neil Pryde. This year, the high caliber competition is unlikely to let them have it all their own way.

Up against Team Premier will be a newcomer to Phuket Raceweek, the Beneteau 44.7 Fuujin. Formerly known as Ichi Ban, the boat has been campaigned with much success on the Thai sailing circuit in recent years and at Phuket Raceweek it will be skippered by familiar face, Peter Sorensen. While Ben Copley’s Aquila Reichel Pugh 45 Katsu, and Kevin Whitcraft’s modified GP42 Wan Ma Rang – both of which have been scoring podiums recently – make them likely contenders also.

The standard of competition in IRC Cruising class is equally high, with a number of chartered boats and crew from as far a field as the USA, UK and New Zealand, to line-up against a strong local fleet who are hoping local knowledge will be their advantage.

After success at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta earlier this year, Rob Azzopardi’s Dreamtime is set to compete against Venture, Eloise, Lucky Lady Lucy, and local stalwart Linda, to name just a few, while the all-Thai crew on Ooh La La – without regular skipper Patinyakorn Buranrom who is competing in the TRANSPAC – will also be in the mix.

Phuket is home to a sizable multihull fleet, in large part due to the strong local boat-building industry. The multihull-only ACYC Multihull Regatta is likely to give an indicator of the in-form crews and provide a tune-up for crews heading to Raceweek.

Designed for Phuket and built in Phuket are the one-design Firefly 850 Sport catamarans, and as always a competitive line-up is again expected, including returning champion Voodoo and regulars Twin Sharks and The Frog.

2011 Multihull class winner DaVinci, also a Phuket-built catamaran, is back to defend their crown, with Mark Pescott at the helm, and they are up against three other local builds – Hurricane, Java and Nina – as well as the G Force 1500 Schionning design and Australian-built Mojo.

Having a genuine Classic class is something unique to Phuket Raceweek and something the organizers have supported and encouraged since the beginning. Entries are already looking good with five having registered to date, including two newcomers, as well as perennial competitor Seraph, who at 106 years old is the oldest in the fleet. All in the Classic class will be racing for the perpetual Seraph Trophy.

To include four days of world-class yacht racing in Phuket, Thailand, combined with four nights of memorable beach side parties at the 5-star Cape Panwa Hotel, the 10th Anniversary Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek will take place July 17-21.

For more information visit: phuketraceweek.com and video is available on YouTube.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Sports pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter for the latest local, national and international sporting news.

 

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