22 January, 2017

After three days of waiting the crews sailing in the 3rd SB20 Asian Grand Slam finally got what they came for. With warm turquoise waters and strong winds, the fleet enjoyed great planing conditions zooming around off the East Coast of Singapore.


The final day of the championship started with great drama.  As the first race for the day started, the North East monsoon whipped herself into a frothing frenzy of white water and spray.  The fleet pounded up the beat towards the coast and rounded the top mark.  Glasgow Kiss rounded the top mark first and skittered off down the run hotly pursued by Team 3LB (Anthony Kiong), Xcellent (John Pollard), Tara (Nik Burfoot) and Walababy (Steven Manning).  The breeze continued to build and increased from wild and wooly to fresh to frightening.  Glasgow Kiss had extended her lead to several hundred meters when drama struck. In the most powerful gust of the day, the crew on Xcellent reached for the green tack line and as they snugged down the spinnaker, the squall struck knocking their rig spectacularly from the boat.  Sadly, this left Team Xcellent and crew unable to finish Race 6 or the regatta.  Glasgow Kiss meanwhile carried on to finish first by almost half a leg from her nearest rival.  Many wondered if this was to set the scene for the hat trick.  The remaining boats reveled in the conditions and every crew finished with a grin as they sped across the line. The finishing order for Race 6 was Glasgow Kiss (first), Tara (second), Walababy (third), Pocapena (fourth) and Madame Zenda (fifth).


Having completed the 6th race, the drop now came into play and only a single point separated Tara (15 points) from Glasgow Kiss (16 points).  In the glorious breeze, the race officer launched into Race 7 without delay.  The breeze had moderated slightly and become very shifty around the top marks which were re-located sufficiently close to the beach to provide the large spectator crowd with stunning views of the top mark roundings.  Having shortened the race course, the race officer sent the fleet on a three lap race which would certainly test the boat handling skills of all competitors.  Race 7 saw a change of fortunes with Tara sailing way with a commanding lead and leaving the remaining boats to scrap it out in a series of tight contests.  Glasgow Kiss held on to second place while a strong 3rd place by Team 3 LB (Anthony Kiong) put them back in the hunt for the trophy.


Despite some ominous clouds on the horizon, the breeze continued to blow and Race 8 was commenced.  As the battles for placing heated up, the dread U Flag mad its presence felt again and claimed three more victims in Team Uber (Adrian Peach), Seven Friday (Gaetan Verhegge) and the Henson Sailing Team (Florent Hensen).  Glasgow Kiss (Nils Razmilovic) had a great start and chased Team 3LB (Anthony Kong) around the top mark.  Both boats gybe-set as the top mark and in the building breeze, Glasgow Kiss turned on the afterburners to race past Team 3LB and bounce them back to the less favoured side of the course.  Tara remained deep in the fleet and it looked as though the regatta was within reach for Glasgow Kiss.  And then the tables turned.  The trusty right shifts shut down and a strong line of breeze came from the beach powering Team 3LB, Walababy (Steven Manning) and Bandit (Ryan Teo) down the run.  The boats which had been looking strong in the right now limped towards the bottom marks watching their competitors hoon along in strong breeze.  By the time the boats had rounded and completed the beat, the order was mixed up again.  Team 3LB, Tara, Walababy, Madame Zenda (David Witt) and Bandit made up the front pack while Glasgow Kiss languished well down the order.  On the last run, in a last ditch effort to salvage some points, Glasgow Kiss returned to the right hand side of the course and this time, found the breeze.  With her crew in the footstraps, Glasgow Kiss lit up and came charging down the run hard.  Walababy finished the race and then carnage ensued.  Team 3LB held up Bandit and Tara near the finishing line, forcing both boats to complete gybes just as the pressure reached them.  Team 3LB finished second and Bandit broached wildly out of control spinning out an colliding not only with the bottom mark but also Tara who broached as well.  Glasgow Kiss knifed her way down to the line and the three boats finished within a matter of seconds.  On the boats, no one could tell the finishing order and it was only the eagle eyes of the race officer that was able to separate out the millimeters awarding Bandit third place, Tara fourth place and Glasgow Kiss fifth place.


Heading into the last race, Tara lead the fleet on 20 points followed by Glasgow Kiss (23 points), Team 3LB (24 points) and Walababy (27 points). The North East monsoon wind had reasserted itself and increased to 18-20 knots.  The race committee valiantly tried to re-anchor in the strong wind but could not find good holding and kept drifting off station.  The tension built as time leaked away and the 1600 deadline loomed.  With just a few minutes left before the cut-off, the race committee was able to station itself and start the race.  Glasgow Kiss put in a commanding performance to lead the fleet from start to finish.  Walababy found herself deep in the pack and unable to battle through to clear air finished 7th.  Team 3LB found herself in trouble and retired from the race.  As the carnage unfolded around, Tara, with a comfortable 3 point buffer took matters in her stride and attached herself like glue to Glasgow Kiss finishing in a very respectable second place. Bandit took third while Pocapena (Mike Buchanan) had a much better day securing fourth place.


The crews, exhausted after a long day on the water, made a spectacular sight as they blasted their way back down the shore and through the port of Singapore to ONE15 Marina.  Beers were consumed in the Boater’s Bar as the race committee calculated and re-checked the results.  Once the final tally was in, Nik Burfoot (former Laser world chamption) and his crew in Tara had come in first with 22 points.  Glasgow Kiss fell agonizingly short of the three-peat in second place on 24 points.  Walababy crewed by Steven Manning and his fully pro team filled out the podium on 34 points.


Team 3LB had moments of brilliance but lacked consistency, finishing fourth (37 points).  The students on Bandit have clearly been studying boat handling coming fifth (42 points).  Big boat skipper, David Witt, collected some big scores early in the regatta which pushed him down to sixth (50 points).  The French team on CN Salettes were seventh (64 points).  Thai Platu National Champion, Scott Duncanson struggled in the heavier breeze to finish eight (69 points).  British Team Uber came 9th (85.5 points) and were last seen heading for Cambodia by bicycle.  Pocapena improved markedly on day 3 to finish 10th and a mere half a point behind Team Uber (86 points).  SMU Sailing (Colin Lim) were outpaced by the Singapore Polytechinc and finished 11th (87 points) beating Xcellent (John Pollard), who also had 87 points, on count back after breaking a mast.  Werner (John Bateman) and Robert Jessing (Katana) fought a tough battle throughout the regatta to finish 13th and 14th with only a point between them (91 and 92 points, respectively).  Sam Chan (Team SAM) enjoyed the faster conditions but ended the regatta in 15th (105 points).  Team Hanuman (Morten Jacobsen) and Seven Friday (Gaetan Verhegge) were not as competitive as usual, finishing 16th and 17th (110 points and 119 points) but enjoyed the sailing and camaraderie of the event.  Henson Sailing Team helmed by eponymous Florent Henson as 18th with 129 points. Nick Cocks (Zorro) came 11th in the last race (his best result of the regatta) to grab 19th position (139 points) by less than two points from SMU Sailing 2 (140.7 points).  Singapore Polytechnic sailing Slippery When Wet finished 21st (142 points) ahead of Scum Bag (Jono Mahoney) which came 22nd, having not raced on Day 1.  Fleet new comers Sticky Beak (Chris Andrews) showed great improvement in the last two races and rounded out the results in 23rd on 167 points.


The trophy was presented to Nik Burfoot at a lavish ceremony in the stunning ONE15 Marina ballroom and as the crews toasted their new champion, plans were already being made to come back next year to do it all again.