Phuket International Boat Show: Go Yachting Episode 8

In this episode, Go Yachting is onsite at the Phuket International Boat Show, bringing you the updates. We then head to Hong Kong for the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race – a 565-nautical mile offshore classic from Hong Kong to Subic Bay in the Philippines – and finally, we take a look at the growth of Match Racing in Asia.

Phuket International Boat Show 2012
One of the more established boat shows in the region, the 2012 PIMEX was the ninth running of what has become Asia’s largest in-water consumer show. Hosted at the award-winning Royal Phuket Marina on the Thai resort island of Phuket, PIMEX was held just before the Easter weekend and attracted a strong turnout of quality visitors.

The 4-day show moved from its traditional post-New Year January timing to the end of March this year. The thinking being that the new timing would allow boat dealers to showcase the best possible boats available in the region.

The change paid off, with 2012 showcasing a quality boat line-up and average boat size bigger and better than ever before.

PIMEX is a marina-side boat show with an indoor and outdoor display. Positioned as a lifestyle show and with a clear consumer focus, PIMEX has a mix of marine and lifestyle offerings for visitors.

In the exhibition hall, all manner of gadgets and toys, marine and lifestyle services and products were on offer. Outboards and inboards, wakeboards, sails, kayaks, charter and brokerage, boat builders, day cruisers, luxury villas and more. Even a James Bond-style water-propelled Jetpack was available – the ultimate water toy for the person who has everything else.

In the marina, there were almost 50 boats on display. From tenders to dinghies, sailing monohulls and catamarans to sports and luxury powerboats, and superyachts.

Major international boat brands were represented, including Fairline with their flagship Fairline Squadron 78 Custom, Sunseeker with a trio of Manhattans – 53, 63 and 73 foot – and Ferretti Group with the Ferretti 720 and the largest boat in the show, the Pershing 92.

New this year was a Fractional Boat offering from Absolute World Group’s Marine Division. Pioneers in fractional real estate in Asia, they launched their Fractional Boat, an Elan 42 powerboat, at PIMEX.

Visitors to the Show came from all corners of the world, with a strong showing from Russia. Russia is a growing tourism market for Phuket and the numbers of Russians buying second homes on the Island and choosing to invest in the marine lifestyle, is increasing.

Organisers also reported an increase in the number of Thai visitors and interested buyers – a market which is being targetted more and more by boat dealers in the country.

The response to the date change by both visitors and exhibitors was good, and reports of a number of boat sales and hot leads made at the Show support PIMEX’s position as the top consumer boat show in Asia.

2012 Rolex China Sea Race
2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of Asia’s premier offshore race, the 565-nautical mile Rolex China Sea Race, from Hong Kong to Subic Bay in the Philippines.

On 7th April 1962, three yachts from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, one from Manila and one from Japan crossed the start line of the inaugural race. In 2012, 25 boats took part in this biennial blue water classic.

Returning to defend their 2010 crown, team ‘Hi Fi ‘, skippered by Rolex China Sea Race veteran Neil Pryde, were up against a tough fleet including Geoff Hill and his new 90 foot maxi ‘Genuine Risk’.

Soon after the start, the softening winds put pay to breaking the race record set in 2000 by Hong Kong yachtsman Karl Kwok, and attention turned to tactics and handicap placings.

After over 80 hours of racing, ‘Zanzibar’ from Singapore finished and took the overall handicap win from Hong Kong boat ‘EFG Bank Mandrake’ in second, and ‘Hi Fi’ in third.

Match Racing on the rise in Asia
The diversity of privately-owned boats in Asia has meant most amateur racing of keelboats and multihulls has been handicap-racing.

Other than one-design dinghy fleets, one-design racing is relatively limited in the region due to the lack of suitable fleets available – the Platu fleet in Thailand and the J80s in Hong Kong the main exceptions to this.

However, Match Racing in recent years has gained a following in Asia. Organisers of Malaysia’s Monsoon Cup initiated the Asian Match Racing Championship and recently announced the Malaysian Match Racing Circuit in response to growing interest in the discipline.

In Singapore, the Singapore Management University’s innovative student sailing programme has produced great mixed-fleet results, and recently, they have moved into Match Racing also.

SMU Sailing just announced the launch of the 2012 Asia Pacific Match Racing Student Cup, which will be held at Marina Bay in Singapore, in September.

Regional keelboat Match Racing events currently take place in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Thailand and Malaysia, and this discipline of sailing looks set to continue its rapid growth throughout Asia.

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