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The Genesis of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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The Genesis of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: It was in June, 1986, when a number of leading lights in the Thai sailing fraternity came together with an idea: A Regatta for our King who would turn 60 the following year and the regatta to be held in Phuket, previously untouched by a sail-fest of such significance.

Then current-Commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Chris J King was joined by such yachting stalwarts as Dr Rachot Kanjana-Vanit, Albert T Chandler, William Gason and Adolph Knees. All gratefully accepted architect, ML Tridhosuth Devakul’s offer, to place his newly-opened Phuket Yacht Club Hotel on beautiful Nai Harn Beach, as the Regatta’s “home”. Mom Tri’s generosity ran for another 10 years. What better way to launch, simultaneously, the new hotel and the new King’s Cup.

Logistics were a determining factor in the early days. For example, what types of boats, race management, safety and security, approval of the Provincial Government and, of course, a petition to HM the King to bestow his blessing, as Royal Patron of the new venture and to graciously bestow the permanent King’s Cup Regatta trophy.

It was certainly the determination, generosity and vision of Mom Tri which were the major contributions to raising the regatta to its now highly-regarded, world-class status.

Initially, at the opening of the first event in 1987, a motley collection of itinerant keel boats and catamarans, based in, or passing through, Phuket, dinghies shipped overland from the Royal Varuna Yacht Club at Pattaya and various other craft, such as those berthed at various centers around Phuket’s shores, were cajoled into joining in.

Logistics were a major problem, with the fleets divided into three main centers, ranging from Nai Harn Bay, the Meridian, the Club Med and the Pansea Resort in Surin in the north.

There were keelboats, beach-launched and ocean-going catamarans, Laser dinghies and even wind-surfers. Over the years, many of these classes were dropped, due to difficulties of transporting, race management, security and safety. Such trivial inconveniences soon appeared. For example, all mooring and anchor lines for course markers which had been offered by the Royal Varuna, were too short. The average depth in the Northern Gulf where this equipment was used in race management was only some 20 meters. Around Phuket, the average depth was more like 50 meters.

Fortunately, with great support from the Royal Thai Navy, safety was never compromised – continuing through to the present.

Many of the competitors over the years have become “Regatta Recidivists”, coming back year after year from the four corners of the world to take part in this marvelous festival of yacht-racing and beach life a la Phuket. In some cases, it is “simply to forget about life for a while”, in the superb, stress-free ambiance of Thai-land’s island province.

Throughout the almost three decades of the regatta, fleets change and, now, with so much interest in sailing and yacht-racing among Thailand’s juniors, competing at world championships, the regatta committee has installed the Phuket Dinghy Series which has inspired youth in Southern Thailand to take up sailing since its introduction in 2010.

It has featured in four Phuket King’s Cup Regattas and serves to empower the progression of youth sailing. The Series has become a sailing clinic that has gained in popularity among youth sailors (under 15 years old) for its solid coaching content and the friendship amongst participants from various sailing clubs.


Phuket King’s Cup Dinghy Series 2013. Video: Phuket Today
This year, the Phuket Dinghy Series enters its fourth successful year and is sponsored by PTT Global Chemical. The company is endorsing the development of youth sailing and shares the vision of young sailor training as these competitors represent the future of sailing sport in Thailand. PTTGC has recognized the program as a practical starting point to bring sailing closer to the hearts of more Thai people.

Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organizing Committee, said, “The Phuket Dinghy Series brings many new Thai sailing talents into the arena of competitive youth sailing. It serves as an accessible means of competition for young sailors from many sailing clubs in Phuket, Phang Nga, Songkhla, and as far as Chonburi, in order to prepare them for the International Stage and the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. I would like to thank our sponsor, PTT Global Chemical, for their highly valuable support of the Phuket Dinghy Series, and the company’s assistance in growing the awareness of sailing sport in Thailand.”

Bowon Vongsinudom, President & CEO of PTT Global Chemical, said, “PTT Global Chemical is pleased to support Thai youth sailors and the Phuket Dinghy Series as part of the prestigious Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. Sailing is a sport which is exciting, sustainable, environmentally friendly and increasing in popularity in Thailand. As part of our CSR commitment to providing support to trustworthy, social responsible projects, we are delighted to be the main sponsor for the Phuket Dinghy Series.”

The first series of the 2013 Phuket Dinghy Series was held from October 5-6 at Naiyang Beach Resort; the second series was sponsored by The Kriss Resident Bang Tao over October 26 to 27. The final races, hosted at Panwa Bay by the Third Naval Area Command, Royal Thai Navy, were postponed due to unfavorable weather.

The Phuket Dinghy Series is now an integral part of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, and winners of each class will receive a Royal Award which is to be presented along with other Regatta class winners at Kata Beach Resort and Spa on December 6, 2013. His Majesty the King’s personal representative Admiral Usni Pramoj, will preside over the Awards Ceremonies. M.L. Usni, himself, is also a “Regatta Recidivist”, having officiated at all regattas, with the exception of 1988 and 1989.

Each year, the overall Regatta winner, receives the splendid permanent trophy, designed by Mom Tri Devakul. The trophy is impregnated with the number Nine, representing His Majesty as the Ninth ruler of the Chakri Dynasty. Nine “sails” in burnished metal, emanate from a silver column placed upon a base mirroring the sea. Atop this vertical column, is a replica of the symbol of the King, known in Thai as the: Tra Sanyalak”, emblazoned with His Majesty’s initials and topped with the royal crown. The whole edifice is mounted on columns of ash-wood, carved with the regatta’s title.

When one looks at pictures of the famous – and quite ugly -“America’s Cup” trophy, fought over for almost 160 years, In the hallowed halls of international yacht racing, the Phuket King’s Cup Trophy stands out as a work of art, fashioned by a man with a most artistic temperament.

So, the 2013 Phuket Regatta is set to start, with upwards of 100 entries and, the International body which controls such big events, has approved three judges from the America’s Cup judging panel “La crème de la crème” on the world scene.

So, this is, at best, a “mini-overview” of the regatta which has placed Thailand – and Phuket –in the vanguard of big world events.

For more information visit kingscup.com.

Sponsors of the 2013 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta include PTT Global Chemical, Mont Clair, Singha Corporation, Sansiri PCL, Haadthip PLC, and Sun

— Peter Cummins

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Pattaya

Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis

The Thaiger

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Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis | The Thaiger

Pattaya, like some of Thailand’s other former tourist hotspots, is facing some critical challenges. Hundreds of thousands of workers have left the city because there’s simply no work and up to 50% of the city’s shops are closed, some never to re-open. The Thaiger filmed most of this video on a long weekend at the end of October, the busiest Pattaya had been in 7 months.

Please LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the Thaiger YouTube channel…

As Thailand struggles along without the benefit of its usual tourist traffic, four key former tourist magnets are facing particular hardships. Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai… and Pattaya. Whilst there are patches of business activity, just about everything connected directly with the city’s tourism business are perilously quiet, particularly on weekdays. That means the employees, the business owners, their families, the landlords and their bank are all suffering as the chain of woes reaches deep into Pattaya’s broader community.

Despite the Thai government’s attempts to deny the true reason for Pattaya’s popularity over the past 6 years, including the annual walk-through the city’s red light hot spots and declaring there was no crime or prostitution, the sleazier side of Pattaya has continued to grow, with a growing number of proprietors trying to glean an income out of a slowly declining western patronage. Things were changing and business was getting tighter long before the Covid-19 and Thailand’s border closures.

n 2016, Thailand’s first female Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, announced that Thailand was “closed to the sex trade”. Walking Street was to be gentrified and some of the red lights moved back from the foreshore to establish new bar and bar girl districts.

Several NGO reports have published the number of prostitutes in Pattaya were between 27,000 up to 30,000, depending on the report you read. The plight for these sex workers, post Covid, is bleak. As their work wasn’t officially recognised they weren’t able to access any of the government’s unemployment stimulus payments and weren’t protected under any of the country’s labour laws. Luckily for some of them, their employees worked hard to help them through the crisis. One of those is manager Timmy who works for the Night Wish Group.At their peak they ran up to 29 bars in Pattaya. Many of those have closed. At the moment they have about 13 open, as of the end of October.

For now Pattaya’s red lights have dimmed somewhat although it’s hardly all closed up. Some of the bars have also pivoted to an online model, with mixed results, where the bar girls, and bar boys, are able to ‘chat’ to online customers, viewers can buy them drinks and business continues as usual. Some bars have even stayed closed and are going 100% online with their digital bars. One proprietor told The Thaiger the online bar scene had become very lucrative but was unsure how long the novelty would last.

Apart from the steep decline in total tourist traffic, there’s been a big change in the mix, now mostly domestic tourists. Many businesses are switching up their business models to suit. Many just closed down, seemingly waiting it out to see what happens.

With much of the city’s old workforce abandoning Pattaya and heading home, there are still pockets of local life where communities have banded together to help each other through, whilst waiting for some sort of normality to return. For the tourist areas, mostly closer to the beaches, businesslike is patchy indeed.

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Tourism

Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come

The Thaiger

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Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Pattaya News

Pattaya, struggling along for the past 7 months with a handful of domestic tourists and Bangkok weekenders, has had its busiest weekend for a long time, albeit a long weekend created by the public holiday in commemoration of King Chulongkorn. Much of the increased traffic were Thai faces, a big change to the city’s old demographic of international tourists and expats.

Tourists flocked to the city for the long weekend which included the Eastern Colorful Food, Culture and Music festival stretching along the Beach Road foreshore.

The focus of the weekend’s events was the Beach Road which was visibly busy with expats, locals and tourists joining in the foreshore festival, talent shows, music concerts and local food. Central Festival, in the middle of the Beach Road, hosted a range of activities and shows.

Several proprietors with businesses in the city’s red light areas also told The Thaiger that it was the busiest they’d seen areas like Walking Street and Soi 6 since the tourist tap slowed to a dribble after the borders were closed down in late March.

The city, along with the rest of Thailand, might have a few more good weeks ahead with the Loy Krathong and Halloween celebrations. The Central Festival Bikini Beach Run is also being held next week. Around the corner the Fireworks Festival on November 27 and 28, a seafood festival, and not too far away, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Speaking to a number of participants in the foreshore festival on Friday evening, some people said they’d come down from Bangkok to escape the threat of disruptions from the ongoing government protests. Chad said he needed a Bangkok Break…

“Just had to escape for the weekend and get out of the city. All anyone is talking about now is the protests and I needed a bit of Pattaya pampering.”

Another expat, working in the tourism sector, (who didn’t want to be named) noted that Pattaya’s famous (or infamous) nightlife had sprung back to life.

“It didn’t take long for the bargirls to flood back and the shutters open on the bars again. Most of the faces I’m seeing are Thai. I figure it may be the first visit to Pattaya for many of them. Let’s hope they keep coming.”

“Very happy to see the events and festivals are coming back to Pattaya. We will see more in the last 2 months of the year,” said Sawas Dee.

Beyond the foreshore area there was still much of the city still closed up and hotels were offering excellent rates through the usual OTAs. Pattaya is still in a struggle to keep its businesses open but at least the last 3 days have given a much-need boost to city life.

The Thaiger has a full story about Pattaya’s struggles on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

Watch a quick video from Sawas Dee here…

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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