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The Phuket King’s Cup is the premier event in Asia for 40-footers and this year the competition is fierce.
by Phuket King's Cup media:

picture Guy Nowell©

One of most successful IRC racers in the history of this rating rule has been EFG Bank Mandrake, launched in 2005 as Tiamat and currently campaigned by Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth. EFG Bank Mandrake came into the 2011 Phuket King’s Cup as the raging hot IRC 1 favourite, but she finished unexpectedly back in fourth place.

Mandrake was behind the Japanese IRC Champion Yasuo Nanamori onboard Karasu (1st ), Singapore sailor Steve Manning with his brand new Sydney GTS43 Walawala 2 (2nd ) and David Rowe’s KukuKerchu (3rd).

Nick Burns said this morning ‘The Japanese are sailing superbly with an excellent boat and excellent speed. They get themselves out of holes and they have absolutely flawless crew work. They are very, very good.’

‘Steve Manning and his GTS43 Walawala 2 have been doing very well and they too are very fast. We have more experience with our boat, we are a year and a half in. They have only been sailing their new boat for a week, so to be sailing so well is brilliant.’

picture Guy Nowell©

‘We have definitely improved over the last year and a half, but look what the Walawala crew have done this week. Who knows what they will be like at King’s Cup in 2012.’

‘They’ve had very good performance in both light and heavy breezes. The Ker40 KukuKerchu is better in heavy wind but the GTS43 Walawala 2 seems to be good in both light and heavy breezes.’

‘This is definitely the best 40-foot fleet in Asia. It’s very competitive and you only have to sneeze twice and you have lost five places.Yesterday on the start line, we started between KukuKerchu and Walawala 2 and we were squeezed out like a pip.’

Steve Manning had been sailing a Beneteau 44.7 for seven years with mixed results, before moving up his new Sydney GTS43. Manning explained ‘After looking at the latest, very impressive windward leeward 40-foot designs from Mills and Ker, we figured were needed a slightly different boat with more offshore performance and with a little more of a cruising configuration.

The new GTS43 suits us perfectly. ‘For us to be ahead of Mandrake, one of the most successful IRC 40-footers in history, is very good. To be ahead of them and the Ker40 KukuKerchu is rewarding.’

picture Guy Nowell©

Designer Jason Ker commented ‘With very competitive reference points to start from and extensive use of our highly accurate RANS CFD optimisation techniques, we had no doubt whatsoever that the GTS43 design would prove to be highly competitive, but we are impressed and surprised how quickly Steve Manning and his team on Walawala 2 got to grips with the boat. They started winning races in mixed conditions, after only a few days of sailing.’

Lawrence Mead from EFG Mandrake said ‘We will have to lift our game for 2012. The Japanese are sailing well and they are really optimised, with a fast boat. They deserve to win this regatta. ‘We need to go out and find half a percent. Everyone is always getting faster so we have definitely got to go faster too. ‘Looks like it’s time we had new sails’ he smiled.

In fifth place was defending champion and three-time King’s Cup winner Matt Allen and his all Australian crew on the Beneteau 44.7 Ichi Ban. Having won every year since his debut in 2008, Allen says ‘the level of competition has not gone up just one notch this year – it’s probably gone up three.’

Race Director Simon James agrees. 'There is a move to 40-footers and there are more and more being brought into the region and racing on the Asian circuit. The standard of racing is high, as can be seen from the IRC 1 class competition this year.' By 2012 it seems the number of very competitive new designs on the IRC 1 start line of the Phuket King’s Cup will go up.

Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow summed up. ‘The Phuket King’s Cup is the premier event in Asia for 40-footers.  Phuket is close enough to Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. Here in Phuket you could have an Asia Pacific Big Boat circuit that would rival anything in Europe.’

picture Guy Nowell©

Phuket King's Cup IRC 1 class. Top five Series results after 10 races:

1 JPN4500 Karasu - Yasuo Nanamori (JPN)
2 SIN2008 Walawala 2 - Steve Manning (SIN)
3 AUS55 Kukukerchu - David Ross (SIN)
4 HKG2282 EFG Mandrake - Nick Burns / Fred Kinmonth (HKG)
5 AUS6038 Ichi Ban - Matt Allen (AUS)

For full results, news and information on the 25th Phuket King’s Cup please visit the event website www.kingscup.com

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