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Phuket Kings Cup: strong Australian contingent

Phuket Kings Cup 2013. Conversations around the scales for Jamie Wilmot, Matt Allen and Lisa Allen. (Credit Tracey Johnstone)

Phuket Kings Cup 2013. Conversations around the scales for Jamie Wilmot, Matt Allen and Lisa Allen. (Credit Tracey Johnstone)

If the Members Bar is lacking in sailors this weekend, it’s probably because a large number of Australians have sprinted over to Thailand for this week’s Phuket King’s Cup.

It’s just a short nine hour flight to Phuket International Airport, followed by a slightly hair-raising one hour race down the highway to the delightful Kata Beach.

Across the 98 boat fleet there are 14 Australian entries and plenty of other Australians appearing on other boats. In that group there are the high profile sailors mixed in among a large number of weekend warriors.

Arriving in earlier today was Ichi Ban’s Matt and Lisa Allen. They were quick to weigh in and then head out for a training session. This year is serious business for Allen’s team who are looking to defend their title in IRC Division 2 and set a new record for the event of a fifth winning Phuket King’s Cup title.

Back in Sydney Allen has left his Carkeek 60 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race campaign in the hands of his home crew while he campaigns his Adams 10 in Phuket.

“The other boat is going out this weekend. It’s the only way the crew can get a drive of the boat is to send me to Phuket so I can’t be anywhere near the helm. Gordon Maguire is in charge. We are also doing the final sign off on the rigs with Southern Spa this morning or this afternoon, whatever it is, and then go sailing with the full crew. Our first race will be next weekend. We only just measured on Thursday so we will get a rating sometime next week,” Allen said.

Crouched over at the table outside the Registration room and looking stressed was, Peter Sorensen of the 18ft Skiff and IRC circuit winner fame. He has 11 Australian crew who have traveled to Phuket to join him onboard the Beneteau 44.7, Fyjin, formerly known as Ichi Ban. However, with the crew weight being imposed, he has to find some way to loose 48kgs from the current total crew weight.

Now a four-year veteran of the King’s Cup and more recently, an active participant in the Asian racing circuit with his co-owners, Gordon Kettleby, Tony Brown and Mick Children, Sorenson thought he had all his bases covered prior to traveling up from Sydney for the cup. “We are having a bit of issue with the weight. I had already organised my crew before I knew about it (weight rule). Last time we came here we were allowed to take two extras about the crew numbers and there was no weight issue at all.

“I don’t know why they have suddenly issued it here. I don’t know what to do,” Sorensen said.

Phuket Kings Cup 2013. Conversations around the scales for Jamie Wilmot, Matt Allen and Lisa Allen.

Phuket Kings Cup 2013. Conversations around the scales for Jamie Wilmot, Matt Allen and Lisa Allen.

 

Across the room Olympian Jamie Wilmot was going through the sail measurement process for Ray Roberts’s TP52, OneSails Racing.

He has returned to the OneSails Racing team after a five years break. His first event back in the fold was the Hong Kong to Vietnam event last month where they finished second overall to their sister-ship, Lucky. He was in Phuket last year skippering David Fuller’s boat, Ichi Ban, to victory last year.

“The King’s Cup is good. I have won the racing class seven times.

“The OneSails crew will be Ozzie Stuart from England as Tactician, I am reserve helm and strategist. My number one strategy will be which bar we go to after racing. Andy McPhail is doing instruments, Brad Anston is trimming headsail, Carl Watson is doing main and Vengeance in the pit. We are mainly crewed by Australians,” Wilmot said.

At this time Wilmot has four boats in IRC Division O after Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 90 withdrew from the regatta due to Sydney Hobart race commitments with his Ragamuffin 100. This leaves OneSails Racing to tough it out against Frank Pont’s Jelik, Neil Pryde’s HiFi and the partnership of Ahern, Baily and Wilmer with their TP52.

“I think the divisions may change a bit with a couple from Division 1 come up. We end up doing the same course anyhow. Last year and with the last two races, we ended up having to sail Foxy Lady off the course which cost us a bit. We still ended up the combined fleet winner. We did it to make sure we won our division, but it allow Jelik to get a few firsts on us having to sail Foxy Lady around the course.

“I hope we get to do the same courses so we can see how we go against Foxy Lady and the Kerr 40s,” Wilmot said.

Slipping quietly into town and onto the TP 52 Oi! Is America’s Cup Oracle Team USA’s Grant Simmer. He was invited by co-owner Peter Ahern to experience a King’s Cup. Simmer said he was looking forward to getting to know more about the Asian racing circuit and to doing some different type of sailing after finishing last month’s Etchells Australian Championship in first place with the Triad team of John Bertrand and Andrew Palfrey.

As he found his feet today among the protocol for regatta registration it was pointed out to Simmer that he might be interested in joining in the America’s Cup presentation with America’s Cup jury members, Bryan Willis and John Doerre, both of whom are on the Jury for the Phuket King’s Cup. Simmer politely declined the suggestion offering the quip that he had previously seen enough of the America’s Cup Jury members.

Tomorrow is another day of registration and measurement, followed by a practice race.

Racing in the five-day regatta commences on Monday.

For more event information, go here.

By Tracey Johnstone


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