Asia’s biggest and most prestigious sailing regatta was held at the Beyond Resort Kata, Phuket in early December for the 32nd time. 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 Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.
The event lasted eight days with the focus on keelboats, multihulls and sailors, both international and Thai nationals. Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Organizing Committee, said: “We are delighted to welcome all international and Thai sailors to this year’s regatta which has been continuously organized for over three decades. A fleet of over 100 boats from keelboats, multihulls and dinghy classes contended in this year’s Regatta, sailed over a variety of courses off the Southern Thai resort island of Phuket. It’s great to see familiar names and faces returning year after year to compete in what has become Asia’s most coveted yachting trophy. We are now positioning the race so that it remains highly relevant to future generations and the ongoing development of the sport.”
In the course of 32 years, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has gained a reputation as both a highly competitive event on the water featuring some of the world’s best boats, skippers and crews, as well as a fun social occasion where visitors enjoy the traditional warm Thai hospitality in one of the best holiday destinations in the world. This year was no different.
The keelboats and multihulls were divided into 11 classes: IRC Zero, IRC 1, IRC, Premier, Firefly, Multihull Racing, Multihull Cruising, Bareboat Charter Division A, Bareboat Charter Division B, Modern Classic and Cruising.
With a strong breeze of up to 17 knots, Monday started with blue skies and fair winds; allowing two races in all classes to be held off the southern part of the island at Kata Beach.
Closer to shore, younger sailors honed their skills as they trained in practice races before their Wednesday opening races. The youngsters gathered from all around Thailand, from Pattaya to Songhkla, and most of them are already representing Thailand at international events.
“These young sailors will one day be aboard the big keelboats and multihulls and racing in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta,” said Commander Peera Sagultem of the Royal Thai Navy, who was also the Dinghy Race Officer.
The races are divided in Optimists Boys and Girls, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial, Laser Standard and 420 classes. On Wednesday, 13 year old Panwa Boonak finished first in the Boys Optimist Class. His win comes as no surprise—Boonak is a winner of the Asian Sailing Championships and a member of the Thai World Championship team. A recent winner of the 2018 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship at the Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and Resort in Myanmar, Boonak won all 10 races held in his class.
After an exciting week of racing, Saturday proved to be an exciting day for the finals with good winds of about 15 knots.
In the IRC Zero Class, Australian Ray Roberts and his TP-52 design boat Team Hollywood placed first. Roberts and his team beat out defending champions Kevin and Tom Whitcraft on their Thai-registered boat THA72. This is Robert’ sixth win in 23 years in the top flight class at the King’s Cup.
In the IRC 1 Class, Australian Craig Nicholls finished first overall on Aquarii, while Hong Kong’s Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth on Mandrake III, followed by Scott Bradley’s Thai-registered East Marine Emagine finished second and third respectively.
Chinese’s entry Highlead Encouragers (Judy) finished first overall after seven races in the IRC 2 Class. Local sailor Morton Jacobsen’s sports boat Over Here finished second while Great Britain’s John Grendon’s Di Hard finished third.
The Premier Class honors went to Singapore’s Andy Cocks aboard Firstlight, with Hong Kong-registered boat Antipodes second. Third overall was Thailand’s Inthinai Yingsiri on Pine-Pacific.
The fast locally-built Firefly 850 catamarans managed nine races during the regatta with Great Britain’s John Newnham on Twin Sharks taking the overall honors. Germany’s Hans Rahmann on Voodoo finished second and Brit Neil Ayre on Mamba finished a close third.
In the Racing Multihull Class, Dan Fidock took the helm on the Australian trimaran Fugazi after a close competition all week with the imposing 60-foot trimaran SHK Scallywag Fuku Bid from Hong Kong. Dave Fuller followed up third on his trusty boat Java.
Another highlight of this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta were the 107 young sailors participating in the International Dinghy Classes. Regardless of their young age, all of them proved their skills on the water, sailing across as the new stars of the prestigious sport.
13 year old Panwa Boonak finished with honors after winning all 12 races in the Optimist Class. M.L. Weka Bhanubandh took second place as a promising sailor and Patihan Vorrasart followed third.
In the Laser Standard Class, Chussit Punjamala won 3 out of the 12 races and finished as the overall winner, nonetheless. He was followed by Arthit Romanyk and Chairat Dangdeemark in second and third places respectively. In the Laser Radial Class, Janisara Sasha Romanyk finished as the overall winner and she was followed by Sophia Gail Montgomery and Voravong Rachrattanaruk. The Laser 4.7 Class was won by Patcharee Sringham, with Pitchakon Ungpakornkaew second and Nuttapong Yoang-Ngam third.
As a team event, Intira Parnpiboon and Paliga Poonpat took the top prize in the 420 Class, followed by Chanokchon Wangsuk and Piyaporn Khemkaew in second place, with Jedtavee Yongyuenarn and Chakkapat Wiriakitti in third place
The eight-day event ended on Saturday evening in a special ceremony as H.E Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, Personal Representative of His Majesty, the King of Thailand, presided over the Royal Award Ceremony.
The 33rd King’s Cup regatta will be held from the 1st to the 7th of December next year in 2019.