We have always been cruisers – race sailing has not been on the radar….until we were invited to join Eric and his Oyster 575, Lisanne, as crew in the Phuket Kings Cup regatta. Sounded like fun and was conveniently timed to coincide with our arrival in Thailand. Our crew was international – Eric and Lars hail from Sweden, Matt from the Netherlands, Calum from Scotland and Jimmy and I from Australia.
Lisanne was entered in the Cruising Class – all 33 tons! I looked around the other yachts entered in our category and they all looked significantly smaller and lighter. At this stage I was unaware of the intricacies of sailing around the buoys, wind speed and ratings.
7 days of racing ahead, including a practice race – the unknown.
Down came the Bimini and spray hood (the covers over the cockpit), which meant total exposure to the weather including sun. Off came the anchor which was transferred to dinghy. All unnecessary equipment, which would increase the weight of Lisanne, had already been left on Miss Tiggy.
Each morning we were up at 6.15am, breakfast at 7, cutting sandwiches, repairing wounds (blisters and the likes), covering ourselves in sunscreen and moving out of the bay to join the other participants in the Andaman Sea. At 9 am, the Committee boat would instruct us on which course we would be sailing. There were 5 classes starting at different times so some 50 boats would mill around the line all trying to get the best position.
Eric has raced boats for many years and his experience showed through. There was no time to be sensitive as our Viking leader roared orders. Everything was done at pace. We worked well as a crew – some of us have been sailing these Oysters nearly every day for over 2 years, and the fact that Lisanne is the same design and a similar spec to Miss Tiggy gave us an advantage.
The one blip in the week was a late protest against us on the last day of racing – in the final hour before the presentations, Eric had to attend a jury meeting to face off a potential loss of position or disqualification but no penalty was applied and our number one position was safe.
It was a great week! Line honours in every race and overall number one position after handicapping meant an invitation to the official awards ceremony to receive the Cup replica. This was a big deal – the town was cordoned off for the arrival of the King’s representative, who presented the prizes. There was much bowing and curtsying and military men wearing gold bars.
Of course there were the mandatory parties, dinners and drinks and copious conversations about what if and what was. Thank you Eric for including us – it was a fantastic albeit an exhausting week.