Sailing in Honour of His Majesty the King of Thailand
The eyes of the sailing world will be upon Phuket for the 2010 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta as the event attracts participants from all around the world and media from all corners of the globe report on the international sailing event.
Now in its 24th year the Regatta always takes place in the first week of December in honour of the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Racing in the name of the King of Thailand and competing for the Royal Trophy is a great incentive for Thai boats in the Regatta. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the IRC 2 Class.
The Royal Thai Navy is a regular entry in the Regatta and this year they will be entering three boats, and with their sailing skills it is highly anticipated that at least one of them will emerge victorious at the end of the week. The competitive rivalry between the Royal Thai Navy teams is fierce as the difference between each boat is slim – a testament to the talent of Thai sailors.
Royal Thai Navy 1 has won the IRC 2 class six times out of seven since it was first introduced in 2002. With a crew consisting of some of the finest sailors the Royal Thai Navy has to offer the skipper, CPO-1 Wiwat Poonpat, is proud to fly the flag for Thailand:
“I’m very proud to represent Thailand. Other international teams often ask me to join their team but I always say no. I am proud to race for Thailand and His Majesty, and to be a leader for my crew,” he said.
He will face strong competition from familiar quarters. Royal Thai Navy 2 is a force to be reckoned with and in 2008 the two boats finished first and second with the final race of the Regatta proving decisive as Royal Thai Navy 1 narrowly pipped their compatriots to the post.
CPO-1 Poonpat remembers that regatta clearly because his crew had to overcome real adversity in order to win:
“The foremast broke just before the Regatta and we had to compete the next morning. We did but we were forced to miss out the opening race. We got great moral support from Rear Admiral Karn Chatasenee and Lieutenant Akenavi Nuengjamnong and we were able to fight back and win,” he said.
He hopes that the continued success which the Thai teams are enjoying in such a high profile regatta will inspire a generation of Thai children to take up the sport:
“We want to encourage young children aged 10-15 years old to join and learn with the national team’s coach. We have also formed an Optimist team which will be representing Thailand in the Asian Games. Sailing is growing in popularity in Thailand. When I was a child there was very little by way of support but now everything is very organized and the equipment is available. Talented young sailors can go to national training and people who are interested in sailing for fun can learn as well,” he said.
Peter Dyer’s Madame Butterfly is the only boat to have ever beaten Royal Thai Navy 1 in the IRC 2 Class at the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. He triumphed in 2007 but had to settle for third place behind both Royal Thai Navy boats in 2008 and second place behind Royal Thai Navy 1 in 2009.
Dyer is looking forward to renewing the competitive spirit again in 2010 and is hoping to prevent Royal Thai Navy 1 from winning for the third consecutive year:
“It’s certainly fair to say that they are very competitive and well sailed. There have been many memorable battles between Madame Butterfly, which will be racing as Sea Bees Diving this year, and the Royal Thai Navy boats. Often the wind strength or a small gear failure proves decisive because the racing is very close. They are always good sportsmen and it will be difficult for anyone else to beat them,” he said.
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta which runs from December 4th – 11th 2010 is now in its 24th year and is celebrated both for its great sailing competitions and lively onshore social gatherings.
With the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, the Regatta is organised 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.
Sponsors of the 2010 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta include Kata Group Resorts Thailand, Siam Winery, Chang Beer, Kata Rocks, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, Mom Tri’s Boathouse and The Moorings. Media Partners include Blue Wave 90.5FM, Helm Superyacht Asia Pacific, Indigo Media, Multihull World, The Nation, Phuket Gazette, Prestige Thailand, Sail-World.com and YACHTstyle.