Catamarans took centre stage as the Asian racing calendar started all over again with its largest multihull-only event, the Multihull Solutions Phuket Regatta, from July 12-15. Organised and operated by Phuket Yacht Club and staged on the stunning waterways of Chalong Bay in the south, the Multihull Solutions Regatta featured catamarans and trimarans over 6m.
Andrew de Bruin, General Manager of Multihull Solutions Asia, said the company was proud to continue as the major sponsor, helping develop one of the newer regattas in the region. “This is the sixth consecutive year that Multihull Solutions partnered with the Phuket Yacht Club in this event to promote multihull sailing, cruising and racing in Thailand and beyond,” de Bruin said.
After a day’s break, it was time for the 16th Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek (July 17-21), again headquartered at the five-star Cape Panwa Hotel on the southeast coast.
Phuket Raceweek is also known for its large multihull fleet and organisers expect to split the entries into three classes this year, along with four monohull classes. Organisers are expecting in the region of 40 boats and upwards of 400 ‘sailors, family and friends’, and admitted they’re targeting greater international participation over the next five years, starting with Australia.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of charterers competing in the regatta in recent years and this is an area we want to grow further,” said Byron Jones, Managing Director of event organiser Media Business Services. “Australia is an exciting market with a high population of sailors and a strong awareness of Phuket. This is a market we are investing in for the future growth of the regatta.”
Hong Kong has traditionally had a full racing calendar with Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), Aberdeen Boat Club and Hebe Haven Yacht Club all organising events year-round. Hebe Haven’s Typhoon Series and Aberdeen’s Summer Series will conclude on August 24 and 25 respectively, but it’s RHKYC that’s the organising body of the city’s biggest regattas and Asia’s major offshore races.
This year, the three-day China Coast Regatta, held since 1993, will be held from October 11-13 and followed by the ninth Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, which has separate starts on October 15 and 16, and is held in alternate years to the Hainan Race.
The Vietnam Race is the longest Category One offshore race in Asia, a 673nm, predominantly downwind passage to Nha Trang and recognised as a qualifying race for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart, which starts on Boxing Day each year, is one of the world’s great yacht races and although it’s not really part of the Asian racing calendar, it regularly features a small but significant participation from yachts and owners in this region.
The 100ft Sun Hung Kai Scallywag, owned by Hong Kong-based Malaysian Lee Seng Huang and skippered by Australian David Witt, is among early entries for the 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart, while Standard Insurance Centennial, Judes Echauz’s Philippines-based Reichel/Pugh 75, may also compete.
Just as the Rolex Sydney Hobart will celebrate a significant anniversary, so will Asia’s first major offshore event of 2020, the biennial Rolex China Sea Race, as it marks its 30th edition since it was first held in 1962.
Entries are already flowing in for the race, which will start on April 8 and is typically a blast reach across the South China Sea, transitioning into the tactically challenging Luzon Hole before a sail up Subic Bay’s pristine waters to the finish.
Early local entries include Robert Wiest, Victor Kuk and David Ho who will compete in the race on the TP52 Phoenix for a second time, as will youngster Gordon Liu and Cowen Chiu on the Sydney 38 Kingsman.
SOUTHEAST ASIA’S CLASSIC REGATTAS
The Rolex China Sea Race is traditionally followed by the Chairman’s Cup Regatta in Subic Bay, one of several events organised by the Subic Sailing Club.
In February, the club organises the Around Verde Island Passage Race and the Subic Bay Cup Regatta, both held for the first time last year to succeed the Subic Bay to Boracay Race and Boracay Cup Regatta respectively, after the popular tourism destination was closed to tourists for six months.
Several of Asia’s biggest and oldest events are held in the heart of the season, starting with the China Cup International Regatta in Shenzhen (November 6-10). The event was driven by the Beneteau First 40.7 one-design class and there’s now J/80s and FarEast 28R sports boats among the many classes. Emirates Team New Zealand crew have participated in recent years, while other rock stars of sailing have competed as the regatta hosted the World Match Racing Tour’s M32 catamaran series.
In Malaysia, the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (November 15-23) will mark its 30th edition as it again puts on three overnight passage races up the west coast from Port Klang to Pangkor, Penang and Langkawi, just south of the border with Thailand. The regatta features a wacky rickshaw race in Penang, and concludes with three days of inshore racing in Penang and Langkawi.
The regatta was initially created for yachts plying that route to get to Phuket for the King’s Cup, which was launched only three years earlier in 1987 and is long established as Asia’s most iconic regatta, with over 1,000 sailors at its peak. This year, the King’s Cup will be held from November 30-December 7 and again attract crews from all around the world.
If boats hang around in Thailand or Malaysia for the Christmas holidays, they can also be among those competing in the Royal Langkawi International Regatta (January 6-11), which was founded in 2003.
Nongsa Point Marina and Resort on the Indonesian island of Batam, a ferry ride south of Singapore, then keeps busy with the Nongsa Regatta (January 17-19) and Nongsa Neptune Regatta (January 24-February 2), which is held across Chinese New Year.
BACK IN THAILAND
The 23rd Bay Regatta (February 5-9) will again take in some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular scenery as yachts ‘race’ around Phuket, Phang Nga Bay and Krabi in an event owned by Regattas Asia, headed by Simon James, Race Director for the King’s Cup for almost two decades and one of Asia’s most experienced race officials.
Just as Thailand opens Asia’s racing season, it also closes it, with the Top of the Gulf Regatta (May 1-5) and the Samui Regatta (May 23-30) at the beginning and end of May respectively.
Held off Ocean Marina Yacht Club, this year’s Top of the Gulf featured over 500 sailors and hosted the Thailand SV14 Para Sailing Championship and Thailand Optimist Open Championship, both for the first time.
The Samui Regatta, also owned by Regattas Asia, remains one of the most popular events with all those who take part, as it retains its beachy, island vibe, even if participants are down from its heyday after joining the calendar in 2002.
Still, several of the Asian racing scene’s heavyweights – Team Hollywood, THA72, Jelik, Freefire – as well as the Scallywag Fuku Bld 60 trimaran competed in this year’s event, which featured ‘five days of tropical sailing and six parties’. What’s not to like?
And if you then find yourself missing the action and camaraderie, don’t worry: it’s not long before the racing season starts all over again.