After a spectacular weekend of festivities, the Elephant Boat Race and River Festival ended on March 1 on the banks of the mighty Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Celebrated in honor of Thailand’s national animal, the elephant, this is the second year of the festival and guests from far and wide flocked to enjoy the three-day charitable event.
Sixteen teams from around the globe raced against one another aboard elephant-themed boats to try and claim the trophy from the previous year’s winner, the Royal Thai Navy Seals. Each race took place across 200 m with four teams per heat; the first to cross the finish line won. The specially designed long paddle boats were crowned at the bow with carved elephant heads, and at the stern with traditional Thai fish motifs.
In the end, the Royal Thai Navy Seals, racing on the Citi boat, claimed victory once more from three other teams and received the inaugural King’s Cup Elephant Boat Race trophy graciously granted by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua.
The other three teams in the final race were; Thailand National Sports University Lampang Campus, Casillero Del Diablo; Samut Prakarn & PWC Thailand.
Festival goers also witnessed brave paddlers compete in SUP (stand up paddling), as well as a head to head in a tug of war style battle on the water.
The spirit and energy of this three-day event was not limited to the water. On land, visitors also enjoyed an abundance of on-land entertainment, including Champagne, Wine & Beer tents, live concerts by Paradox and Oat Pramote, kid’s arts and crafts, funfair rides, and a wide selection of delicious food and beverages throughout the day and night. The event also collaborated with the Thai Kite Festival Association to welcome anyone interested in kite-making to create their kites to fly alongside other floating artworks.
Further fun for spectators was the indoor rowing Tournament, which featured amateur rowers competing for the chance to win luxury prizes.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Thailand’s capital city, the event welcomed guests from all over the world, including author and creator of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell and New York fashion designer Nicole Miller. Thai celebrity and environmental activist Pearypie Amata Chittasenee and Jay Spencer were also in attendance, along with a host of Bangkok’s high society.
The event was hosted by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas & raised significant charitable donations through ticket sales that will all be donated to elephant-related causes throughout Thailand. A further achieved goal was generating awareness to benefit the future of the Asian elephant.
Money raised this year will go towards funding conservation workshops, to improve the lives of elephants and mahout families in the Surin Province where ex-street elephants face ongoing hardship.
Other projects benefiting include the development of programs for communities along the edge of the Khao Yai National Park to help them survive alongside the wild elephants who regularly visit their villages & crop fields as well as funding research on the study of behavior patterns of crop-raiding elephants. Money also goes to the extension of a nine-year project for elephant trainers and camp owners where they learn the benefits of positive reinforcement training for captive elephants.
As far as charitable events go, the Elephant Boat Race and River Festival was undoubtedly a fruitful weekend, full of fun, while helping the continuous efforts to support and sustain conservational expertise on behalf of Thailand’s much-beloved elephants.