This year the Bay Regatta (Phuket-Phang Nga-Krabi) has been held for the 17th time. This regatta has its own unique and fascinating spirit which annually attracts lots of yachtsmen from different countries. Representatives of Thailand, Australia, Malaysia, China, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Russia, the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland competed in five classes: Racing Class, 2 divisions of Cruising Class, Bareboat Class and Multihull Class (catamarans and trimarans).
The regatta course lies among Phang Nga Bay islands and beaches. A fleet of sails contrasted against the dramatic scenery looks so fascinating that you can’t help grasping your camera and shooting. However, behind the beauty hides intense struggle, ambitions and desire to come first. Each racing day ends up on a new island with a prize-giving ceremony and a night party on the coast. Beach parties, fire shows, dancing, music and chatting combined with incredible emotions after the race add the Bay Regatta some exclusive charm. This Bay Regatta became second for our sailing school Gokova Sailing Phuket and first for our new sport cruising catamaran Galeforce.
Galeforce is a boat which boasts great racing capacity. It can reach the speed of up to 25 knots and despite the fact that our crew is quite young and still had been building up as a team, all of them felt inspired to sail on a new boat. The eight-boat Multihull Class featured racing multihull boats which were equal to Galeforce in performance while most of their crew members had years of experience in various regattas. Thus the competition and contestants in our class were really strong.
The first day of regatta started with no wind at all. It looked like a competition of experience and strong nerves rather than a sailing race. The Committee decided to shorten the course, however as soon as we finished a strong wind started blowing, literally mocking at us, and we flew like a bird to Ko Yao Noi island where the results of that day were to be announced. We came in sixth.
By the next morning we had worked out the concept of total concentration of all crew members during the race — without unnecessary talks, all energy being directed to the common work.
And the second day turned out to surpass our highest expectations. The race happened to be extremely diverse. Light and strong winds changed each other granting us a chance to get all benefits from our extended rig. We luckily avoided strong counter flow waters that carried back less happy boats under full sails and eagerly watched the regatta favorites falling behind us. Even before the official announcement of results the regatta website showed – that day we came in FIRST!
Our joy knew no bounds! We shouted, laughed, hugged each other, our rivals congratulated us and we felt as a real team! Inspired by this glory we looked forward to the third racing day. More than that, a very strong wind was forecasted and that’s exactly what our Galeforce needed to show her best performance.
Finally the race has started! The exciting minutes of kick off and thanks to a strong wind we are picking up speed. Most crew members are lying on the trampoline, our weight is required to speed up. We are overflowed by waves and it’s quite cold in the wind, but we don’t notice anything flying full of hopes to win today’s race.
Suddenly we hear our skipper giving an incredible, even impossible command – to furl the headsail. We can’t believe our ears. What’s going on?! Being on the bow, we haven’t heard the noise that put an end to our participation in the race. The boom – a spar that supports the mainsail — was found cracked. The mainsail was furled too.
Perplexity and reluctance to believe that everything is over hang among us like grey and wet fog. We reached Phi Phi Don island where a prize-giving ceremony took place that day. Then came the constructor of the boat, admitted the error in the boom design and ruined our desperate proposals to perform an urgent repair.
That day three more boats pulled out of the race early: one boat after colliding with another one damaged the hull, one exited due to torn sail, and one boat didn’t even start the race because of hard wind.
A nice party with reggae tunes went off with our active involvement, but for us it was still kind of fiddling while Rome burns. Not all crew members came back on board Galeforce that evening. Everybody felt relaxed, they didn’t have to get up early in the morning, the only thing to do was to sail to Phuket and celebrate the regatta’s closing.
I was woken up by a surprisingly active noise on the desk. The skipper rushed into the cabin and said that we are going to race. As it turned out, at 5 o’clock in the morning an idea how to fix the broken boom stroke our chief mate and was supported by the skipper. Gosh, what a fuss started! Messing around crew members hurried on board from the shore and started preparations for the race. You should have seen happy faces of eight so different from each other grown-ups united by a single common desire to take part in the sailing race.
The skipper orders to set sails. Setting …and immediate cancellation – the load is too heavy. The race won’t start for us today. The trip back to Phuket was full of philosophical conversations.
Having returned we drank champagne, ate caviar, and congratulated each other. Then we met in the evening at the closing party, watched amazing photos of Galeforce on a big screen and drank to the skipper and the crew. We have many regattas ahead. Phuket Multihull Regatta and Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek will take place in summer, the most important Phuket King’s Cup Regatta — in December, and of course the favorite one — the Bay Regatta of next year.
This year 9 Russian crews successfully participated in the Bay Regatta having once again amazed the yachtsmen from all over the world. Five of our crews took top places in their classes.
- In Racing Class Evgeniy Nikiforov’s crew onboard First won the glory, second came in Denis Sarana on No Applause
- In Bareboat Class Maxim Taranov took the first place on his Sita, Peter Kochnev on Venture came second.
- In Cruising A Class Elena skippered by Nikolay Korolev finished third.
Russian yachtsmen have something to be proud of!