PHUKET: The island is hoping to host a round of next year’s international UIM F1 Powerboat Grand Prix circuit, the world’s premier inshore power boat racing championship.
Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura told the Gazette that he had already met with F1’s Vice President for Marketing, Giancarlo Tschuor from Switzerland, and that a tentative agreement had been reached to stage the Phuket race in February next year.
“They would like to use the Deep Sea Port [at Cape Panwa],” he said. “If it is successful, then Phuket could become an annual venue for racing.”
The 2004 championship, which started in the waters off Mumbai, India, in March, has so far included races off Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Italy and China, and is scheduled to visit Singapore on Sunday (September 19) and Putrajaya, Malaysia, the following Sunday (September 26).
“They have already checked many of the facilities here, such as the hospitals and hotels, as well as water depths, winds and tides,” the Governor said. “There are likely to be about 12 teams taking part.”
He added a warned to Phuket’s bureaucrats: “We have to help them with immigration and customs procedures, included the importing of spare parts in advance of the event.
“We have to make things convenient for them. If we don’t do this, then I don’t think they will come back again. Officials involved in the arrangements should not be stupid; we should all help them.”
The Director of the Phuket branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Suwalai Pinpradub, welcomed the news.
“This is a world-class event,” she said. “It will be good for tourism in Phuket because it will be broadcast on satellite TV. It will be a big help in promoting Phuket as a marine tourism center.”
She added, “One piece of good news is that there is already a boat team sponsored by Boonrawd Brewery [maker of Singha beer], which plans to compete in the [Phuket] event.”
The Singha Racing Team, which is based in Italy, took first place in Mumbai and currently lies second in the team standings, behind Emirates F1 of the UAE.
The UIM F1 Powerboat Grand Prix website is at www.f1boat.com/index.shtml.
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