POSTED: Wednesday June 6th 2018

The New KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series gets off to an exciting launch

The KTA and the Samui Regatta joined forces to bring the region one of its first ever combined kiting and sailing events officially launching the new KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series.

Kite Foil Action @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series
Kite Foil Action @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series

Youth Dinghy Championship @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series
Youth Dinghy Championship @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series

Keel Boats in Action @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series
Keel Boats in Action @ Samui Regatta & KTA Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Series

The Samui Regatta is one of the regions most respected and established sailing events. Attracting many international crews each year who descend on Koh Samui for this prestigious regatta that also acts as the final stop on the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship. The Asian Yachting Grand Prix is a yearlong series that takes the sailors across Asia in a 13 event challenge, before crowning its champion in Samui.

For kiters the week was a unique experience, opening the opportunity for them to blend with sailors and young dinghy racers, in an amazing action packed week on crystal waters.

Procedures kicked off with the Youth Dinghy Challenge on the first weekend. This pitted 38 young hopefuls against each other in closely contended racing in Optimists, Laser and Fareast 11 classes.  It was a perfect opening for the regatta as the dinghies raced close enough to shore at Chaweng, to allow parents, coaches and supporters to cheer the young sailors on. This paired the regatta perfectly with the Centara Grand Beach Resort, who has hosted the regatta since the beginning and functions as the race’s HQ throughout.

Following the official opening party at the Centara, the regatta then moved into open water and into large boat fleet racing.

The Samui Regatta boasts both keel and multihull fleets, broken down into IRC Zero, TP52 Division, IRC One Performance Cruising and multihull classes.  For the next 3 days the hardworking crews would battle things out around the beautiful island setting of Samui, in a series of windward/leeward courses and passage races. This was no easy feat given the ever changing wind and weather conditions generating a mix bag of weather conditions brought on by nearby storm systems.

However, this is what it’s all about for the sailors, the chance to not only pit themselves against each other, but also to brave the elements and it proved captivating to listen to the race reviews and the challenges of the day with the crews each evening at the Regatta Tavern. A big thank you here in particular to the Aussie crew of Fujin, who took time out each night to enlighten us kiters with a recap of the day’s sailing action.

Mid-week the regatta takes a well-earned day off to regroup. Giving the teams a chance to recover and repair the boats and get ready for the deciding clashes of the week. For the kiters things were front and center as it was the launch day for the KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil Series. Unfortunately the weather took control and on that day kiters were faced with the worst conditions of the week. So with a storm raging overhead at the kite beach at Mae Nam, the race officer called out the day - the rains plunged the field of play!

However, what a difference a day makes and following day was a complete change. Blue skies and building NW winds greeted the kiters as they assembled for the mornings skippers meeting, so it was happy faces all round.

The KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil Series was finally underway. The first two races of the day were set on windward/leeward courses to give the fleet a chance to warm-up and settle into the location before Kite RO David Brookes sent them off on a 32km long distance race between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Those first two races saw some very tight racing throughout, as the AsiaPacific Hydrofoil fleet sized each other up. The races, which were being run over a two lap course, would see Malaysian rider Daniel Leow and Thai rider Rachan Taktin exchanging the first two bullets among themselves. Close behind them in their wake however was one of the fleet’s youngest riders, Max Maeder, who is only 11yrs old from Singapore. Max would hold his own with riders many years his senior throughout the day, claiming 3rd position in all 6 races - most appropriate it would seem with a race number of 03. Japan’s Kazumasa Sugihara was also making his mark in the top 3, showing what a truly international field the KTA had attracted for its first hydrofoil outing.

Then without the riders returning to shore, the mid-session long distance race was a go. This would be a first for the KTA and despite two riders unfortunately missing marks during the course, all the riders made the 32km in good time. It would be Daniel Leow crossing the line in first place, with a finishing time of 38.12 mins to take the honours.  The riders were recorded reaching speeds of up to 26kts during the race, off of wind speeds that had now stepped up to between 14 - 16kts over the course.

After a short lunch break, the riders where back out on the water again for their afternoon session, to make the most of the perfect wind conditions.

Back on the windward/leewards, the battles recommenced again between Leow and Taktin for superiority, with the lead changing back and forth the over the 3 races. On the final race of the day it looked like Taktin had made a tactical blunder that would cost him his day’s ranking, as he came off the starting line in last position. However, with some masterful sailing over the upwind legs, he chose the lines that would him right back in contention and even back into 2nd slot, as he pipped the young Singaporean on the final finish line dash.

With 6 races now in the bag, the kiter’s scoresheet was open and everyone left the beach in high spirits to join the evening celebrations with the rest of the sailors from the Samui Regatta at the evening awards that took place at the Centara Grand Beach Resort.  And a tough day it had been indeed for the boat crews, many of whom had sailed hard for hours in their own long distance passage race. At one point this had brought them around the North of the island insight of the kiters, creating quite a visual spectacle in the ‘grandstand’ bay between Samui and Phangan. June 2nd would be the final day, both for the Samui Regatta and the KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil Series.

The KTA riders were met with much lighter winds at Mae Man Beach, the breeze building more slowly to around 8/9 kts for the start of the first race at 11am.

There had been much talk overnight about the sizzling performance of the young Singaporean, Max Maeder, and there was now great interest on the beach to see if he could hold his form today against the adult racers.  The dual between the top 3 riders, was also being hotly contested, how would this play out in today’s lighter air?

The first race kicked off with a clean start and some close racing to the top mark. Then slowly three riders began to pull away and opened up a gap that the rest of the fleet would not be able close again. Then, to everyone’s excitement on the beach as Malaysia’s Leow tacked early on the second beat, Maeder held his line and it proved to be the winning move - leaving him uncatchable as he rounded the top mark for the second time and tore off towards the finish line to take his first ever bullet.

However, in races two and three Leow reasserted his authority and returned flawless performances, to put himself back into top position once again. He was helped early in race two, as Maeder dropped a tact and had to re-start himself, giving Leow the break he needed to push ahead.

Yesterday’s other top rider Rachan Taktin, could not however repeat his top 3 finishing positions and was this time edged out by Japan’s Sugihara, who proved more adept than the Thai rider in the lighter winds.

Sadly as race 3 was drawing to a close, the steady breeze the racers had been enjoying began to fade way. Unluckily for one or two of the back markers this would mean a ride home on the rescue boat, but everyone else made it to land safely under their own steam. That however was the conclusion for the day and for the first round of the KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil Series, as the wind refused to make an appearance in the afternoon.
Still with nine races in the bag in total, it was judged a successful event by one and all and a great start to the new KTA series.

For the sailors too it was a hard fought day as they consolidated their respective class positions, from the almost untouchable THA72 winning 8 out its 9 races, to Sudu Red taking the Multihull class, Mandrake defending its Samui Regatta title on top of its Grand Prix win and our adopted Aussie crew pulling off their first bullets of the week.

Given all this on the final day, it was no surprise that spirits were high as the kiters and sailors came together for the finale Grand Gala dinner and awards night at the Centara Grand. With 500 guests enjoying bands playing, exchanging race stories with photos and video footage running on a giant backdrop screen, the awards for the week’s endeavors were bestowed. Ending the 17th Samui Regatta and 1st KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil round in style.

The Samui Regatta was also joined by the team from Desaru Coast and JS Concert, who following the conclusion of the awards signed a contract for the Malaysia round of the KTA AsiaPacific Hydrofoil Series - this is set to take place later this year in November at Desaru Coast, in Johor. An area of 3,900 acres along a pristine 17km unspoiled beachfront, the location offers perfect conditions for the KTA to bring international kiteboarding competition to Malaysia for the first time.

For the Samui Regatta the kiters had received a great welcome from the sailors, making them very much a full part of the regatta family for the week and the kiters are already now looking forward to repeat the experience again next year. The event proved a wonder sporting exchange.

Top Overall 5 Asia-Pacific Hydrofoil Riders
1. Daniel Leow Malaysia
2. Max Maeder Singapore
3. Rachan Taktin Thailand
4. Kazumasa Sugihara Japan
5. Ben Turner New Zealand

Photo Credits - KTA Media and Chris Whitmore
Key kiteboard sponsors: Surf Spot Huahin, Iconic Studios, Moose Cider and the Kiteboard Association Thailand.

Key regatta sponsors: Centara Grand Beach Resort, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Amari, Ozo Chaweng Samui, Budget and Mount Gay.

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Keywords · Kiteboarding · sailing · Kitefoil · Regatta · Youth Sailing

Name: Neil Godbold
Organization: KTA Media

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