Video Report: Phuket Superyacht Rendezvous making history

PHUKET: To say that the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous, at just 14 years old, is soaked in history would be an understatement. As spectators look out across the bay from the Kata Rocks, the event’s host sponsor, this December 16-18, one boat sure to catch the eye is SY Sunshine, built as the “third sister” of the original Sunshine, floated 114 years ago.

Sunshine is – and was – a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner. In layman’s terms, with eight sails in full bloom running with the wind, she’s a beautiful phoenix soaring above the waves.

Launched in Myanmar in 2003, Sunshine was more than three years in the making before her 80 tons saw water and bore east through the Mergui Archipelago on her maiden voyage to make Phuket her first foreign port of call.

Sunshine measures 31m over the deck, has a beam of 5.6m and a draft of 3.4m. Her total sail area is a

The new Sunshine in full flight off Phuket. Photo: Kevin Miller

mesmerizing 5,296 square feet.

The hull and rig are exactly faithful to the original 1900 design, with the owners’ choosing Myanmar Shipyards in Yangon to recreate her classic sleek lines. This location was chosen as that is where they found the most talented shipwrights who still maintained the same creative shipbuilding skills of their forefathers of the 20th century.

The interior is hand crafted from teak and rosewood, but differs only slightly from the original layout to allow for required modern safety standards, such as the four watertight bulkheads. The ship was built under strict supervision of a Lloyd’s surveyor, to the exacting standards of Lloyd’s Survey of Steel & Wood specifications.

The deck is laid down in long thick lengths of solid teak planks over the steel beams, and caulked with cotton in the traditional method. The masts and spars are all of Sitka Spruce and the standing rigging is of galvanized steel.

Sunshine‘s two main guest staterooms, including queen-sized beds, are located in the wide, quiet midship area in front of the saloon. The spacious aft cabin features two bunk beds. All cabins have en-suite bathrooms and are fully air conditioned.

In full flight downwind, Sunshine looks like a beautiful phoenix soaring above the waves. Photo: Courtesy of Asia Superyacht Rendezvous

Marking the launch of the original Sunshine, Yachting World in 1901 wrote, “She was designed by William Fife Jun and while intended for a cruiser, she looks, with her long overhangs, small but powerful underwater body, strong and well-turned bilge, and extremely roomy deck, every inch a modern racer. Sunshine is a very handsome boat and cannot fail to be a speedy one.”

One look at the Sunshine of today will surely invoke images of the sailing greats of yesteryear. But there’s history, and then there’s history in the making. Joining Sunshine on the start line during the Rendezvous’ two days of racing, and in the glorious sail-past parade, will be SY Escapade.

The 37.5m all-aluminum, fast-cruising sloop was launched August 29 this year, built by the prominent New Zealand shipyard Fitzroy Yachts. Last week, she was anchored off Penang, en route to join the Rendezvous fleet.

Today’s Sunshine is a beautifully haunting replica of the first of her kind. The sleek Escapade is possibly among the last of hers – Fitzroy Yachts closed its doors on the very day in April when Escapade was shipped to Auckland for completion.

Escapade is the first yacht of her size to feature solid carbon aerofoil rigging, meaning continuous rigging and reduced wind resistance. Hauling a gross tonnage of 191 tonnes, she features fixed keel and draws a four-meter draft – all intended to deliver top performance in regattas.

With a raised saloon and a fixed bimini over the cockpit, which has mechanically operated sliding windows, the superyacht can accommodate up to 10 guests, with the master cabin and two guest staterooms located aft and a fourth cabin-come-day room, galley and crew space forward.

As described in Design Unlimited’s own report of the boat’s interior, “The subtle underlying tones within the final Design Unlimited style were carefully selected as the backdrop to enhance the exoticism of the Malaysian touches. The final result was achieved using traditional materials including hand woven Songket silk panels, hand crafted teak carvings and a Merbau timber floor which darkens naturally over time.

“A clear link to nature was high on the priority list. The use of individually selected stones including Verde Bamboo, Wild Chianti and Agate mineral brought the feel of natural materials alive in the statement features throughout the interior.”

Many people shy away from such promotion verbiage, yet the photos available of the interior (click here) are plain testament to the description – and the boat’s beauty – and plainly show that luxury and precise attention to detail were high on the design team’s list. Class, it seems, is bound only by imagination.

Adding to the eclectic mix on the start line at the Rendezvous will be Northern Sun. If any boat’s looks can deliver the impression of the very definition of “sturdy”, Northern Sun has it in spades.

The huge motor yacht’s humble beginnings began in 1976, when she was launched as a working vessel for the Hokkaido National Fisheries Research Institute of Japan.

However, an exacting refit in 2007 ushered in new life for her as the ultimate luxury cruiser. Northern Sun has a vast range of some 10,000 nautical miles at her cruising speed of 10.5 knots, and she has an “ice-strengthened” hull, making her a true ocean-going adventurer.

The annual Asia Superyacht Rendezvous returns to Phuket on December 16-18 for the event’s 14th edition, and is making history with each passing year. Video: PGTV

At 50m long, Northern Sun will make the perfect backdrop playing a major role in this year’s Rendezvous as “Start Boat” for the racing events, with the likes of Sunshine, Escapade and the Phenisi yachts Silolona and Si Datu Bua, and ultra-modern motoryachts, sailing past.

The Asia Superyacht Rendezvous may be only 14 years old, but the Phuket event – sponsored since inception by Royal Dutch master shipbuilders Feadship – is surely already making history.

For more information about the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous, and the beautiful boats that will be taking part in Phuket, visit

The Phuket Gazette and PGTV’s ‘Phuket Today‘ show, the island’s only nationally broadcast television program (aired daily on True Visions channels HD-79 and SD-107), are proud to sponsor this event.

— Chris Husted

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

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