Phuket King’s Cup marks 30th anniversary

PHUKET: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Under Royal Patronage since its inception in 1986.

What has become one of Thailand’s most prestigious sailing events was launched after a number of the country’s yachting fraternity met to discuss what they could do as a special tribute for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s forthcoming Fifth Cycle, or 60th birthday, the following year on December 5, 1987.

The inaugural regatta was organized by Royal Varuna sailors, including Commodore Chris King, Dr Rachot Kanjanavanit, Al Chandler, Adolph Knees and others. It was yachting and Phuket aficionado ML Tridosyuth Devakul, better known as renowned architect and developer Mom Tri, who placed the resources of his then recently opened Phuket Yacht Club Hotel at Nai Harn Bay in Phuket at the regatta organizers’ disposal. And so the regatta began with a mixture of keelboats, catamarans, Lasers and even windsurfers.

Like any prominent yacht racing event, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has developed its own folklore. Scott McCook, for example, who sailed his beach-launched catamaran up from Singapore, won all five races one year, then sailed the small boat back to Singapore.

Recently the regatta has become a big-boat event, attracting keelboats and ocean-going catamaran teams from around the world. As a principal fixture on the Asian Yachting Circuit with international-standard race management, the regatta annually features upwards of 90 boats – a record of 103 vessels took part in 2007 – and 2,000 sailors, ranging from the Formula One of the sea lanes, the Racing Class, to live-aboard ocean cruisers, multihulls and classics.

Under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King of Thailand, the 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.

Vice President of the Organizing Committee Santi Kanchanabandhu has been part of the King’s Cup Regatta for 23 years, first when he sailed in the event and later when he became active on the Organizing Committee.

In 2004 Mr Santi became the Commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and took the mandate to assume the leading role in the Phuket King’s Cup Organizing Committee as President for three straight years, before handing over the duties to his successor, Commodore Kevin Whitcraft, the incumbent President.

“Under the royal patronage of our late King Rama IX, who was a passionate sailor, the kingdom boasts a precious sailing legacy. While we join the nation mourning the loss of our beloved Royal Patron, we shall endeavor to continue fostering the legacy in sailing that he left behind,” he said, ahead of the regatta’s 30th anniversary.

The Phuket Gazette and Gazette Radio are proud to be Media Partners of the King’s Cup Regatta since 2006.

— Nick Davies

Phuket News

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