Multihull Solutions Regatta hits new heights
Photography by Scott Murray
Reporting by PYC & Greg Reynolds
Australian based yacht brokerage Multihull Solutions partnered with the Phuket Yacht Club for the third straight year to organize Asia’s largest multihull-only sailing regatta. There were 18 entries, including an exciting new One Design class with five very quick and nimble Corsair Pulse 600s. The growth of multihull racing and cruising continues unabated in Phuket and the surrounding regions. The tropical climate, moderate wind conditions and idyllic cruising grounds make multihulls the perfect platform for fast passages between islands, racing and cruising.
The Firefly 850s, designed by Phuket resident Mark Pescott, offer some of the fastest and most competitive racing in the kingdom. Having dominated thisevent in 2015 John Newnham’s Twin Sharks went on to win the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, the Phuket King’s Cup and was the clear favorite to continue this unbeaten run into 2016.
Voodoo, skippered by Phuket resident Ian Coulson, and Mamba, captained by long-time supporter of multihull racing Neil Ayre, would provide the toughest competition with Moto Inzi and Blue Nose (with Mark Pescott) trying to cause an upset among the Firefly Racing hierarchy.
The OMR fleet saw the biggest mixed fleet of trimarans and catamarans ever to enter this regatta. Stealth catamaran designer Alan Carwardine sailing Hurricane was the class favorite and boat to beat going in. John Coffin’s Java was the most likely challenger, but with Henry Kaye’s Sea-Cart 30 Thor in the mix and the completely unknown performance of Robert Van Paridon’s 43-foot trimaran Tantrum Too, anything could happen.
With the addition of some new sails and equipment Mark Horwood’s Adrenaline has certainly shown improvement throughout the year and given the right conditions are certainly a line-honours contender but an unusually high handicap will likely see them struggle for podium positions. The remaining three Stealth catamarans Galeforce, Alegro and the brand new Top Cat skippered by Peter Woods sailing their first regatta will surely be in the mix and keeping the front-runners honest.
Five one design Corsair Pulse 600s entered including the Multihull Solutions Phuket General Manager Andrew de Bruin (Sudu red, black, blue and yellow made up the rest of the fleet). Mick Tilden chartered a boat and the former co-skipper of Fujin raved about his time on the Pulse.
After enjoying the hospitality of the Phuket Yacht Club for breakfast and listening to all the first day regatta banter, PRO Simon James and his trusty crew of race assistants and start-boat support crew, left at 08:30 to see what the race course in picturesque Chalong Bay had to offer.
By the 10:30 start time a steady breeze of 8 knots greeted the fleet and so the marks were laid and a three-lap windward/leeward course was set for the three divisions.
First to start was the racing multihull class and Thor jumped to an impressive first leg lead, showing all boats a clean pair of heals around the course to record an impressive fastest time. Hot on his heals were five of the locally built Stealth catamarans with Alan Carwadine, taking the win on corrected in Hurricane, Peter Woods Top Cat in second and with Thor hanging on to third from John Coffins Java.
The one-design Firefly class were next off with five starters and an even start turned into a tactical battle up the first beat, which showed that the Twin Sharks team, led by John Newnham, were going to be tough to beat in the regatta, sailing a smart race with commanding speed and tactics to record a good win. Chasing hard was the team from Team Mamba and Neil Ayre who also sailed well in the gusty and fluky wind to finish second. Third was Voodoo, who always looks striking on the water with their great colour scheme.
Last off was the Pulse 600 class, who enjoyed the conditions and looked magnificent on the water with Andrew de Bruin of Multihull Solutions the principal sponsor jumping to a commanding lead for two of the three-lap race then after the last rounding a wind shift and increase in pressure allowed Mick Tilden on Blue Sudu to close the gap and them pass on the last lap. Third place went to Paul Baker on Red Sudu.
In race two, the Pulse fleet enjoyed another three lap windward and leeward race with the breeze staying solid in strength and direction and the places were a carbon copy to race one.
The Multihull Racing and Firefly classes enjoyed a passage race for the second race of the day, which went around the perimeter of Chalong Bay out to the safe water mark to the south and then they did another lap of the bay. Close racing again was the order of the day under blue skies and moderate winds with flat water enabling Hurricane to post another easy win with Java Yachting getting second and Top Cat finishing third.
The Fireflies had the closest racing of the day with the fleet regularly crossing tacks and jibes on the perfect race course. Twin Sharks again showed the way with Mamba second and Voodoo coming third.
The sailing conditions that greeted the competitors and race management were less than ideal, with clear blue skies but no wind. But true to the cause PRO Simon James and his band of trusty volunteers left shore at 08:30 in search of breeze.
By 11:30 after much swimming and good-natured banter the wind slowly filled in from the Southeast. So a windward and leeward course was set for the three classes and at midday the first warning signal was sounded.
First fleet off was the Multihull Racing class and Top Cat had the best of a pin end start leading early, but halfway up the first beat Thor, Hurricane and Java closed the gap and a close battle ensued… jibe for jibe and tack for tack the lead changed but at the end the placings were Java 1st, Top Cat 2nd and Hurricane 3rd.
The next fleet was the closely matched one design Firefly class, and all eyes were on Twin Sharks after two wins on day one. A brilliant start by Voodoo saw them lead from start to finish and record a brilliant win. Twin Sharks, after a less than ideal start, fought back from third around most legs of the course to snatch second from Blue Nose at the finish.
The third fleet to grace the starter was the evenly matched fleet of Pulse trimarans and at the head of the fleet, chief regatta sponsor Andrew de Bruin, and Mick Tilden continued their battle. They swapped victories in the two races today and have sewn up first and second with one day to go, and Mick Tilden has a small lead to protect.
The other three boats are all showing great improvement in the tricky light wind conditions and are pressuring the two leaders around the course with Paul Baker posting four third places to be consistently on the podium.
Race two got underway in a very light southwesterly after a short delay and with the crews keen to race the racing Multihull division went at it with gusto.
Top Cat again pegged the start to get away well with Hurricane and Java left pondering what had happened in their wake. This led to the improving Top Cat posting their first win of the series and close the points gap on Hurricane to one point with the last day to come. Hurricane was sailing well, having good speed but would need to be on their game on the final day to hold the trophy. A great third place by Galeforce was the reward for sticking at it in the tricky conditions.
Last but not least, the fantastic Fireflies got off the start line with lots of mocking for position and the top dog Twin Sharks was forced into a less than enviable start with Voodoo sailing off to a good lead with clean air and tactics.
But you can't keep a good boat down forever and Twin Sharks fought back gamely to take the win and consolidate their position on top of the leaderboard. Voodoo posted another great second and were perched in second ahead of the consistent Mamba, who seemed to like the better pressure of the first day, and would be hoping for similar conditions on the final day.
With podium places on the line, the nervous excitement and anticipation of a great day’s sailing was clear to see and feel at the breakfast tables at the club.
What made it even better, Mother Nature decided to grace Chalong Bay with a westerly breeze of 10 to 12 knots, which promised to grow as the day wore on.
The PRO motored out to a position in the northeast corner of the Bay and bang on 1030, the racing was underway.
First off was the Multihull Racing class and all eyes were on the three boats battling it out for podium positions. The fresh breeze suited Henry Kaye’s Thor and they jumped to an early lead, extending out looking like a first and fastest was on the cards, but a small technical problem allowed the three chasing Stealth cats to close the gap. Hurricane put their stamp on the regatta with a resounding win followed by Java, while Thor hung on for third spot.
In race two for the Multihulls the breeze increased to 16 knots and Thor again jumped out to lead, this time with no mistakes romping home to take a deserved win on handicap as well as first across the line. The Hurricane crew sailed very well with awesome speed and flawless sailing to take second with Top Cat coming third.
This meant the very deserving and consistent winners were Asia Catamarans Hurricane led by Alan Carwardine, second went to the improving Top Cat with Peter Wood steering and third went to Java Yachting led by John Coffin, who showed glimpses of wining speed, but not often enough to pressure Hurricane.
Next fleet to greet the starter were the Fireflies whose racing and speed were a joy for everyone to watch.
The fresher breezes suited the very consistent and well-sailed Twin Sharks, but out of the pack emerged a new contender for the top position in Advanced Racing Team Mamba, who showed fantastic speed around, first, the three-lap windward and leeward course, and then the longer Bay race to follow. A second and a first were the just rewards of her speed and smarts on the race track.
However, the ultra-consistent Twin Sharks also placed first and second over the two races to comfortably sew up the title. A couple of other boats also showed good form during these windier races, with Blue Noze and Moto Inzi grabbing a third place finish each.
This left Twin Sharks sailed by John Newnham as the very deserving regatta winner with Advanced Racing Team Mamba jumping up to second, with Ian Coulsen’s Voodoo placing third.
Then the evenly matched Pulse 600 fleet eagerly jumped at the chance to plane around the racecourse and enjoy high speeds providing the onlookers with a great spectacle.
The fleet raced two three-lap windward/leeward courses and the windier conditions threw a few different results into the fleet position. In the first race of the day, Sudu Blue Pixalux showed great speed and tactics to race away to an impressive all the way win, which also tied up first place in the regatta. Chasing hard was Multihull Solutions to also place second and also wrap up second place in the regatta. Third went to Phuket Island Radio helmed by Qu Jaimin.
Race two around the windward and leeward course had the breeze increase favouring the crew of Sudu Red helmed by Paul Baker, second was Pixalux and third was Sudu Yellow, which was a great reward for perseverance of the crew. Therefore, the overall winners were Mick Tilden sailing Sudu Blue, second was H30 Multihull Solutions with Andrew de Bruin and third was Paul Baker on Sudu Red.
PYC stalwart Kathy de Cruz donated Bt5,000 and as always was a big help on the start boat. Kim Mitchell and Pia did a great job of supplying all the food and beverage making sure everyone had enough nutrition and libation Ghislaine “Gigi” Bovy did a superb job of posting all the party shots on social media. And Tim Willis gratefully supplied his rib for the regatta as he usually does.