A sia’s legendary yacht race, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, first ran in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Ever since then, the event has been held during the first week of December.
After a two-year Covid hiatus, the 34th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta returned full force with some truly thrilling sailing. Defending champion and veteran Australian sailor Ray Roberts Team Hollywood narrowly edged out rival Thailand’s TP52 Kevin & Tom Whitcraft THA 72 to win the top-flight IRC Zero class in an exhilarating competition.
The IRC Zero class went right down to the wire: THA 72 won the first race of the final day leaving it trailing Team Hollywood by one point heading into the final race of the regatta. And if THA 72 had won the last race, it would have won the regatta as on countback it had won the second-last race of the event.
The two yachts duelled it out throughout the course and as they turned the top mark on the last leg of the final race, they were less than a boat’s length apart. Sparring all the way down the course, Team Hollywood, recorded six wins from ten races in this class, and was just able to pull out victory crossing the finish time by six seconds on corrected time over THA 72. World-renowned sailor Adam Minoprio, who was the tactician on Team Hollywood, said, “That was real racing today, nip and tuck all the way.”
The Singapore-registered boat WindSikher of Sarab Singh and Nick Burns finished third overall, but did manage to hang tough, sail every race and win the last contest in the series. It was the same one-two-three finish that this class saw the last time the regatta was held in 2019. And these three boats have won the regatta the last five times it has been held (Team Hollywood 2022, 2019 & 2018; THA 72 2017 & Windsihker 2016) With a second-and-third place finish on the final day, Kazuki Kihara’s Japanese crew on Char Chan was able to hold on and win the IRC 1 class and avoid a late charge by Garry Holt’s Let’s Get It On, which won both races on the final day, and claimed second overall. Craig Douglas’ Ramrod clinched third overall based on a good day’s showing. Morten Jakobsen’s Hanuman XXXIX finished fourth, with. Matti Sepp’s Judy placed fifth the class.
Thais claimed victory in the Premier Cruising class, as Ithinai Yingsiri’s X-Yacht 55 Pine Pacific won again on the final day to claim victory over Peter Cremers sleek Warwick 75 Shatoosh and Simon & Chaa Piff’s Firstlight finishing third, although it did not sail on the final day.
Jakod Handte’s Fei Jian triumphed in The Charter Cruising Class, winning a division in the King’s Cup for the first time in thirty years of competition. Torben Kristensen’s Kinnon had to retire from the regatta after race two on day three when it collided with 2Fast4you, but it still claimed second place in the class over Masami Yamashita’s Inlova due to its first-place showings early in the regatta.
The Multihull OMR class did not compete on the final day but Hermann Schwarz’ 2Fast4you won every race in this class over Hang Chen’s ZOE, except for the race in which it had to withdraw because of its collision with Kinnon.
The International Dinghy Classes raced from December 3 until the 6th. Then there were five days of racing for the keelboats and multihulls, starting on the 5th and sailing through to the closing ceremonies on Saturday the 10th.
His Excellency Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, a personal representative of His Majesty the King of Thailand, presided over the Royal Awards Ceremony and presented the trophies to the winners on Saturday afternoon. The International Dinghy Classes (Optimist Boys, Optimist Girls, Open ILCA4, ILCA6, ILCA 7, 420, 470, and Open Skiff) saw 182 dinghies from Thailand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, India, Japan, Malaysia and China compete against each other off of Kata Beach.
Thais did very well in the dinghy competitions as Chanatip Tongglum won the Optimist Boys and Prin Subying won the Optimist Girls class. In the 29er class, Chaichanawut Deenak and Suthon Yampinit of Thailand lead the pack. Fellow countrywomen Narisara Satta and Nichapa Waiwai won the Skiff Boat class. The Open ILCA 7 saw Thai national Prakasit Hongpradab win with fellow Thais Paliga Poonpat and Chakkaphat Wiriyakitti winning the 420 class. The 470 class was captured by Navee Thamsoontorn and Panida Suksomporn also of Thailand.
The Open ILCA4 was won by Kenan Tan of Singapore with fellow countrymen Khoo Zachary taking the Open ILCA6 division. and the Open Skiff championship was won by Anandi Chandavarkar of India. Kevin Whitcraft, the president of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta organizing committee said at the royal award ceremony, “From the keel boat fleet to the largest dinghy fleet in the King’s Cup history, it has been a great tribute to His Majesty King Rama X, our host country and all who revel in the freedom of the seas – particularly in Thai waters. It has been three long years without the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta and we are pleased to have completed this event as the start of a new future for the Regatta showing that Phuket and Thailand are back in business as a destination for travel and sailing.
“On behalf of the Organizing Committee, I congratulate the winners and tell one and all, win – or lose –to come and join us again for the 35th regatta which will be held in December 2 to 9th 2023. For all returning sailors and newcomers, we look forward to welcoming you back and hosting you in the future.”
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is organized by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the RTN 3 and the Province of Phuket.
Photos Courtesy Of Guy Nowell