Thailand’s Samui Island is ready to host the 13th sailing of the iconic Samui Regatta, held 24th – 31st May at Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui on Chaweng Beach and organised by Regattas Asia.
With a 30-strong fleet already confirmed, including the top racing yachts in Asia, and more on their way, the 2014 Samui Regatta is set to deliver some top quality competition and likely to decide the outcome of the 2013/14 AsianYachting Grand Prix.
“The quality of the entries is looking exceptional, not only in the racing and top IRC fleets but also amongst the cruisers and charter boats. Last year there was some very close racing on-the-water often with just seconds separating boats on corrected time, and looking at the boats and crew this year I would expect the competition to be just as close and in some cases, even more so,” said Simon James, Race Director, Samui Regatta.
The entry list reads like a who’s who of sailing. Five 52-footers will line-up against the two mini maxis of Hong Kong’s Frank Pong (Jelik, 75ft) and Australia’s Geoff Hill (Antipodes, 72ft) in IRC 0. Sam Chan (Free Fire), Neil Pryde (HiFi), the Royal Malaysian Navy (Ulumulu, ex Mui Mui) and the Ahern/ Bailey/ Wilmer trio on Oi! will be hoping the mix of windward-leewards and passage races, together with the prevailing conditions, favour them over the 70-footers. Possibly the best line-up of racing yachts ever, IRC 0 is expected to deliver some aggressive startline action and tight racing on the track.
While Frank Pong secured the class title last year together with the 2012/13 AsianYachting Grand Prix (AYGP), this year the AYGP looks to be a multi-horse race. Pong, and upto as many as 10 others, are in the mix and it looks set to go down to the wire with Samui Regatta likely to decide the outcome.
Other IRC class splits will be based on final entries, but as of now the numbers look good and level of competition the best yet. Last year’s IRC 1 winner Foxy Lady VI (SIN), Katsu (THA), Island Fling (HKG), Utarid (MAS), EFG Bank Mandrake (HKG), Elektra (BEL), Windsikher (SIN), Blue Note (SIN), Jessandra II (AUS), Dynamite (CAN), Red Kite II (HKG), Abraxas (SIN) and Amanda (SWE) will be battling for the relevant honours.
New to the Regatta, but with the familiar face of Michael Spies onboard, is the Corby 36 Jessandra II (ex Rockall III, ex Rosie). Skippered by Roland Dane, principal of Red Bull Racing Australia, the team won the Audi Australian IRC Championship in 2012 and remained unbeaten in competition.
After resting the boat last season, in January this year they finished second overall to Black Jack 2 (ex Telefonica V70) in Surf to City and have now shipped to Asia to compete on the Asian circuit.
Another newcomer is the Archambault 35 Red Kite II helmed by Anthony Root. Having dominated their class in Hong Kong for the last few years, they made the decision last year to race the South East Asian events. Winning their class at the 2013 Phuket King’s Cup and placing second-in-class at the 2014 Royal Langkawi International Regatta, they have made their intentions clear.
“We’re pleased to see new boats coming to Samui and the Regatta. For some it may be their first time to Samui Island. We’ve been working closely with the local government and relevant agencies; the Island is ready and the Regatta is ready to welcome all participants,” added James.
A strong showing from local boats and charter crews in the cruising/ charter classes include Moon Shadow, Freewind (2013 class winner), Sunsail Anchali and Sailquest Paprika II, to name a few.