Our moment of glory at the Samui Regatta, came at the combined gala prize presentation party, on the magnificent lawn setting in front of Centara Grand Beach Resort on Chaweng Beach. After winning overall and class titles at the 2016 Hong Kong to Hainan Race and the San Fernando Race, plus IRC 2 on the Subic to Boracay Race and Cup during the 2016/17 Asian Yachting Grand Prix season, Steve Manning & Anthony Root's Ker 42 Black Baza, were crowned the 2016-17 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year with the Perpetual AYGP Cup filled with champagne, hand crafted take home trophy and donned the specially tailored Trend Fashions Navy Blue Blazer, which is the “hardest sports trophy to win in Asia” and the highlight of the AYGP season.
They have also defended the title and have set a record in the process, by winning all four major Asian offshore, blue water races in the past two years. Overall champions on the 2015 Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, 2016 Rolex China Sea Race, 2017 Hong Kong to Hainan Race and the San Fernando Race has never happened before and can be added to the RHKYC race record archives and will take another well organised team and racing campaign to repeat this achievement.
The AYGP is not all about winning and more about where you end up in the annual rankings each season. Aussie Chris Mitchell's Naut 40 Lady Bubbly ended up clinging onto 2nd best Skipper and Yacht to run a racing campaign, in Asian waters from the Cruising Class. Despite only two boats in their class, resulting in low scoring, they won seven out of nine races to score 10 points and stay ahead of third best Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns GTS 43 Mandrake III that secured a solid 2nd place in IRC 1. Just goes to show that a yacht that competes with distinction, at six regattas, in any class, has a chance of winning the title.
All the top performing yachts at the season ending bash in Samui, made a last minute dash to become the big movers and improved their rankings into the top 10. Kevin Whitcraft's TP52 THA 72 ended with nine wins out of ten races and jumps up into fourth best team in Asia, overtaking the Philippines Judes Echauz’s TP52 Centennial III in the process. Big win at the Top of the Gulf for Scott Bradley's Sydney 40 Emagine and after contesting only four regattas Sam Chan's TP52 Free Fire take over 6th and 7th respectively. IRC 1 victory for David Dimmock's Club Swan 42 Loco, lifts them to 12th place and extended plans for next season, should finish higher up the rankings.
No time to rest on their laurels, as the 2017-18 AYGP gets underway with the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek on July 19th to 23rd. They are approaching a bumper entry year and expect to kick off the season in grand style.
Other regatta news came forward, when President of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Kevin Whitcraft took to the stage at the closing party of the Samui Regatta, to announce the Phuket regatta’s dates for this year, are from the 2nd to 9th December and still awaiting word from the palace on the protocol.
The AYGP is a unique point scoring system, that annually ranks all the big boat Skippers and Yachts that race in Eastern and South East Asian waters. The aim is to provide an Asia-wide platform to showcase regional regattas, their diverse fleets and give all competitors an equal chance of being ranked and ultimately win the title. Presently regattas in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong, are point scoring events. This season 226 Skippers and 227 Yachts have contested at least one event and with the inclusion of the China Cup next season, another 100+ skippers and yachts are expected to join the race for the AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year title.