Jet-ski races get thumbs-up

PATONG: Despite the Governor’s announced policy to rid Phuket of jet-skis by 2011, Phuket Province has given the green light for Patong to host the first round of the 2006 Jet Ski Thailand Championship, on March 4 and 5.

The go-ahead for the event was confirmed yesterday at a meeting between Vice-Governor Niran Kalayanamit and members of the Thai Jet Sports Boating Association (TJSBA), including its President, Dr Santad Sasiwanich.

After the meeting, V/Gov Niran explained that allowing the event to take place in Phuket did not indicate a policy shift. Both the Governor’s office and the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) considered the TJSBA proposal and agreed that the event’s tourism promotion benefits were too good to pass up, he said.

Action from the high-profile event will be broadcast on TV in Thailand and abroad by networks including UBC and ESPN, giving Phuket widespread international exposure, he pointed out.

When Phuket turned down the opportunity to host World King’s Cup jet-ski races in December 2005, that event was instead held in Pattaya.

TJSBA officials earlier told the Gazette that that event was not approved because it was not in line with provincial policy. But yesterday V/Gov Niran said that it was bad timing, not the Governor’s policy, that had triggered the rejection of the 2005 event.

“We will continue our provincial policy to regulate jet-skis and make sure they are not too noisy. As for a sporting event such as this, we can control them,” he said.

Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukbal admitted there was some resistance to holding the event in Patong.

He suggested that those seeking a quiet day by the sea on the first weekend in March might consider going to one of Phuket’s other beaches.

The jet-ski races will take place inside an area 500 meters long and 400 meters in width, just offshore from the Patong football field. Temporary spectator stands will be erected on the beach.

Prize money totaling 60,000 baht will be up for grabs at the event, during which the 2006 “Asian Jet Ski Champion” will be crowned. Subsequent rounds of the 2006 Jet Ski Thailand Championship will be held in Chanthaburi, Yasothon and Surat Thani.

Phuket News

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