Although each of the regattas in the Southeast Asian sailing circuit, commonly known as the Asian Yachting Grand Prix, has their own unique characteristics and advantages, none can match the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta in term of numbers and prestige. Indeed, if sailors are picking one regatta to race in – it’s the Phuket King’s Cup.
The Phuket King’s Cup was first held in 1987 as part of national celebrations to mark the auspicious 60th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch. His Majesty the King was a passionate sailor and created yachting history in 1967 when he and his daughter Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya won a gold medal in the OK dinghy class at the 4th South East Asian Peninsula Games. Each year, he sends a personal representative to present the trophies to all the winners at a gala closing ceremony.
The regatta brings together the best the region’s sailing community has to offer from the organizing committee led by Kevin Whitcraft, to the race officers Simon James and the competitors who come from around the world to race in the event.
Kevin says, “This year is the 30th Anniversary of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, and it’s been amazing for us to see it grow from a small seed back in the late eighties to bloom into the best regional regatta. A big thank you to all involved, including sailors, the organizing committee, sponsors and the Royal Thai Navy, who have helped to contribute, organize and support this event since the beginning. We’re delighted to be able to enhance sailing and marine tourism in Thailand.”
The regatta has come a long way since it was founded in 1987 by then-incumbent Flag Commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club (RVYC) Chris King, Dr. Rachot Kanjanavanit, Al Chandler, Adolph Knees and Mom Tri Devakul. The Phuket King’s Cup has always sailed under the direction of the RVYC, with extensive logistical help from the Royal Thai Navy and support from the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) along with several authorities in the province of Phuket.
The Phuket King’s Cup has a well-earned reputation for delivering a shore-based social schedule that can be more demanding than the race action as skippers and crews are assured of non-stop action, gourmet food and a variety of entertainment to suit everyone’s tastes and dispositions.
In many ways, the regatta is a reflection of what makes Thailand so special from the food and hospitality to the ocean, beaches and stunning topography.
The five-day race programme starts with a sail pass in honour of the Birthday of His Majesty the King of Thailand, with a procession of participating boats passing the Royal Thai Navy vessel HTMS Klaeng, each saluting an image of His Majesty. The Navy ship along with other Royal Thai Navy vessels are fully dressed and stationed off Koh Pu.
A variety of downwind and ’round-the-buoys races and a popular scenic island passage race provide suitable challenges for the many competing divisions, including racing, performance cruising, cruising, multihulls and classics. The regatta also has a very strong youth dinghy fleet that it supports with a year-round racing series to help foster the long-term appreciation of sailing in the Kingdom.
Phuket is blessed with balmy tropical weather, good winds and stunning scenery. In short, all the ingredients for near perfect sailing conditions. The regatta has grown in size and reputation so it now ranks along with the Caribbean’s Antigua Race week and Australia’s Hamilton Island Regatta, as among the world’s great sailing regattas.
Phuket has become a Mecca for sailing enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. They are drawn by the great ’year-round weather conditions, the stunning scenery and the friendly locals. With the establishment of an increasing number of suitable on-shore backup facilities including marinas, service and charter businesses and regular sailing events, Phuket has emerged as Asia’s premier marine leisure destination.
The 29th King’s Cup saw 89 racing yachts divided into 14 classes, 60+ dinghies and over 1,500 sailors competing from 18 countries. Sarab Jeet Singh, skipper of Windsikher II, won the premier racing division (IRC Zero), after finishing second and third in earlier regattas and is eager to defend his title this December.
The Kata Group of Resorts has been host to the event for many years, and it will continue to do so as the Kata Beach Resort & Spa remains the hub and headquarters for this prestigious event to be held from 3-10 December, 2016.