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Phuket King's Cup Regatta marks 30th Anniversary

by Tanyaporn Kanchanahoti 12 Oct 2016 11:45 BST 3-10 December 2016
(l-r) Radab Kanjanavanit, Santi Kanchanabandhu, Kevin Whitcraft, Pramookpisitt Achariyachai and Tom Whitcraft © Tanyaporn Kanchanahoti

World sailors to vie for Asia's most sought-after regatta trophy

The Phuket King's Cup Regatta Under Royal Patronage, one of the most prestigious international sporting events in Asia, will draw a huge gathering of sailors from around the world to mark its 30th Anniversary year. Yachting enthusiasts and pro teams come from every corner of the globe to compete in the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea for King's Cup Regatta glory. The regatta program includes the Phuket Dinghy Series, International Dinghy Classes, Keelboats and Multihulls amongst its competitive classes as well as a new CRX Kiteboard class. The 30th Anniversary Regatta is to be held from 3-10 December, 2016, at Kata Beach Resort and Spa, Phuket, Thailand.

Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizing Committee, together with an extremely dedicated team of organizers, officiators, supporters and volunteers, have successfully evolved a race that began back in 1987 into what is now recognized as the 2016 Asia Boating Awards – Best Asian Regatta. They are not alone; many of the competing teams believe in the regatta as being the very top Asian prize in sailing, and the reason why they come back year after year.

Kevin explains, "The PKCR was inaugurated in 1987 to mark the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King of Thailand. The event has been held every year since. The theme chosen for the 30th Anniversary's milestone event is "Heritage of Passion," a marque designed to honour the successful history of competitive sailing in Thailand, and its bright future to which the regatta makes a massive contribution."

The growing success of the regatta, from ten sail boats at the beginning to over 180 boats nowadays, allowed the event to be extended to a week. Before the prestigious 2016 Asia Boating Awards win, the King's Cup has taken the top event award at the Christofle Asia Boating Award 2005 and 2006 ("Yachting Event of the year"). Moreover, its most visible historical accolade is in sending a jolt through the sailing world in Thailand; developing the sport, attracting young sailors to learn and compete, and creating a surge in Thai marine tourism.

More than 190 international boats and yachts, as well as over 1,500 sailors and participants from over 30 countries are expected to join the Phuket King's Cup Regatta 2016. Local residents and small business operators gladly welcome the event because of the economic boost – and it continues to go up year on year. This has a positive effect on Phuket and the brand of Phuket among international sailors and travelers, as it has evolved to become recognized as a "World Class Yacht Festival" home.

Phuket through the regatta has also become home of a different kind – a home to fast-developing youth sailing talent. Kevin says, "Throughout the three decades of the regatta, fleets have of course changed, and now with so much interest in sailing and yacht racing among Thailand's juniors, the regatta committee installed the Phuket Dinghy Series which has inspired youths in Southern Thailand from many sailing clubs in Phuket, Phang Nga, Songkhla, and as far as Chonburi, to take up sailing since its introduction in 2010. There is great hunger and motivation especially among young sailors here for competing at world championships."

2016 fleets and races

This year, fleets expect to comprise different classes of Keelboats and Multihulls: IRC Zero (international 'Grand Prix' boats), the highly competitive IRC 1, IRC 2, along with Sports Boat, Modern Classic, Classic, Premier, Open Charter, Bareboat Charter, Cruising, Firefly 850 Sports, Multihulls Racing and Multihulls Cruising. Sailors and support crews will hail from many countries, including USA, Australia, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

2016 will be special as it will also feature the new CRX Kiteboard Class, providing 3 days open clinic from 5 – 7 December 2016 for young riders, and its race is to be held at Chalong Bay during the regatta, expecting more than 30 riders around Asia to participate. This new element will appeal to kiteboarding enthusiasts and a younger sailing audience.

For the youth sailing races, the 30th anniversary continues a dedicated International Dinghy Class. The inclusion of dinghies has played a part in the development of youth sailing in Thailand, encouraging more young sailors to take up the sport. New this year is the long distance race for the dinghy fleet (as well as the main fleet, if wind conditions permit). Victorious Thai sailors from the Phuket Dinghy Series, which takes place from July to November, will receive trophies together with other winners at the prize giving ceremony.

Kevin said, "We are proud of our new wave of young Thai sailors. Bam Kamolwan Chanyim (KC Laser winner 2012), was the first female Thai sailor to join the Olympics in Rio, together with Keerati Bualong, KC Laser winner 2015. Early this year, our 2014 and 2015 Optimist winner Nattapong (Max) Yuang-ngam was crowned at the Rooster International Topper 4.2 World Championships 2016 in Northern Ireland. We are also pleased to note that for next year, Thailand will be a host of the IODA Optimist World Championship and the Royal Varuna Yacht Club Thailand was awarded to be a venue for this prestigious event."

Phuket King's Cup Regatta - the Royal Trophy

The Phuket King's Cup Regatta trophy itself is special in many ways. Designed by architect and entrepreneur ML Tridhosyuth Devakul, the trophy was royally bestowed upon the regatta. There are nine beautiful sails coming out from the central silver column, which sit upon a base representing the sea. From its narrowest point, the sliver base expands in width upwards towards the sails. There are in total nine bezels of growing width underneath the nine sails.

Atop the vertical column sits the Royal Cypher. The emblem features His Majesty's initials above which is the Thai symbol for the number nine, signifying the ninth King of the dynasty; and, at the very top is the Royal Crown. The silver trophy sits on a column of Maka wood, adorned with the name of the regatta, the Phuket King's Cup Regatta.

Partnership and Support

The 2016 regatta returns once again to its modern spiritual home, Kata Beach Resort & Spa. The resort has hosted a total number of 18 consecutive regattas. As well as being Principal Host Sponsor, Kata Beach Resort & Spa is the main hub and operations center for race control, officiating and dispute resolution areas, the media center, as well as hosting the opening and closing parties and ceremonies.

Pramookpisitt Achariyachai, President of Kata Group Resorts Thailand, says, "Kata Beach Resort and Spa is the long-established home of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta since 1998. We are very proud to support this prestigious event for the 18th year. The event attracts the finest yacht sailors the world has to offer and they descend upon the Andaman Ocean in great numbers to race their yachts in the presence of crowds of spectators. The area of Kata Beach is heavily populated during the regatta week, with many awe-inspiring yachts located just off shore, whilst a great deal of spectators – both local and visiting – line the shores to witness the display. This gives us the opportunity to present our Kata Group brand to a worldwide audience via a superb sponsorship platform."

Sponsors of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta include Principal Host Sponsor Kata Group, and Strategic Partners: The Government Lottery Office (GLO), Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Co-Sponsors: Central Pattana, PTT, Siam Winery & Montclair and Haadthip PCL. Media Partners includes Phuket Gazette, PGTV, Prestige, True 4 you, Madame Figaro, Luxury Society Asia, Yachtstyle, Sea Yachting, The Greater Phuket, The Guide Phuket, RL Magazine, One Coast, and Phuket Marine Guide.

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