The organisers of the AGYP have been coping a lot of flak lately, from some boat owners and crew, about keeping the Neptune Regatta (Feb 10th – 17th) in the five-star family of AYGP Point scoring events. Citing, it’s damaging to the prestigious level of branding the 2017-18 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year titles, should aspire to. Over the last few seasons, the general trend has seen racing class entries decreasing and causing some concern to the organisers and sponsors.
Still no entries in the IRC Racing Class at the Neptune Regatta but the changing nature of boat ownership and use in the region, has 10 production boats in the Cruising Class, 4 Premier Cruisers, 5 Multihull Racing and 4 in the Multi Cruising class, plus 4 support motor vessels. Having long distance passage races through the Riau Islands, doesn’t diminish the quality of racing but has the opposite effect, of severely testing offshore navigation skills, tactics, anchoring and other worthwhile seamanship qualities. We’ve always noticed that when ever two sail boats come together, the race is on!
At the Regatta Forum for regatta representatives, after the 2011 Top of the Gulf Regatta in Pattaya, it was decided to incorporate all the yachts racing, at the selected AYGP point scoring events, into a combined scoring system for all classes. For the previous 10 years the award was only for the Racing Class Skipper and Yacht to aspire to. From this time onwards, it was always on the cards, that a Cruising or Multihull class yacht, could win the title, if they participated with distinction in 6 events during the season.
Also for the AYGP Title to become truly comprehensive of big boat racing in the region, it was decided to include at least one regatta in South East and East Asian countries, that embrace yacht racing as a sport. Restrictions on racing areas in Singapore and the opening up of Indonesian waters, has changed buying habits, to yachts with interiors, as the aging racing sailors are looking for comfort and maintain some of the ole fashioned fun aspects, while racing a boat with friends.
Gone are the days when Neil Pryde, Ray Roberts, Bill Bremner, Sarab Singh, Peter Ahern, Fred Kinmonth and Nick Burns spear headed the 2009 Singapore Strait Regatta and raced across the Strait to Nongsa Point Marina. In the past, at other SE Asian events, race organisers have also relied on several big Kong Kong yachts to regularly grace the Racing and Premier Cruising classes, but changing times have considerably slowed the past trend of lengthy racing campaigns.
Despite the lack of Racing Class entrants, the Neptune Regatta is still the best we have in the Singapore/Indonesian region and until something better comes along, it will be included in the lineup.
Similarly the inclusion of the China Cup International Regatta into this seasons line-up, as China is rapidly advancing the sport in leaps and bounds, so it’s common sense for the biggest regatta in the region to be included. Not only to attract more entries but also to encourage new boat owners to broaden their horizons and participate on other events in neighboring Hong Kong and the Philippines.
At the end of each season, after the Samui Regatta, and before the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek kicks off the new season, the selected regattas are assessed and a few tweaks to the scoring system are carried out, based on the previous years feedback and findings. This is the time to have a grumble and submit constructive criticism, along with any new ideas.
Racing now moves onto the Neptune Regatta (Feb 10th – 17th) to complete the Western Circuit. Then onto the Philippines for the classic Subic to Boracay Race & Boracay Cup (Feb 23rd – March 2nd) and back to Hong Kong for the Rolex China Sea blue water classic, which is quickly followed by the Commodores’ Cup (April 3rd – 7th) in Subic Bay, to complete the Eastern Circuit.
The final two regattas Top of the Gulf (27th April – 1st May) held at the 2017 Best Marina award winning Ocean Marina and Samui Regatta (26th May – June 2nd) are centrally located in the Gulf of Thailand and are accessible to yachts from the both the Eastern and Western Circuits, for the final showdown and presentation of the prestigious 2017-18 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year awards.