The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is now in its Quarter Centenary year, after first sailing in 1987 to celebrate His Majesty the King of Thailand’s 60th birthday. Under Royal Patronage, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is organised by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club.
Recognised throughout the eastern hemisphere as the premier sailing event of its kind, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta will again present a spectacular display of Asia’s finest sailing talent who will compete on this most coveted international stage. 2011’s event will run from December 3 to December 10, beginning with two days of registration, briefing and practice, before five days of exceptional racing concluding in the Royal Awards Ceremony on the final Saturday.
The Phuket King’s Cup is a competition steeped in history and magic. The Regatta was established to celebrate a most auspicious occasion; in 1986, a number of Thailand’s yachting fraternity met to discuss what they could do as a special tribute to His Majesty the King’s forthcoming Fifth Cycle, or 60th birthday, for the following year on December 5, 1987.
After careful discussion, it was decided to hold a Royal Regatta. Phuket was to become the glittering location for this sailing spectacle; the first such event held in the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea.
The inaugural Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was realised in 1987 by Royal Varuna sailors, including Commodore Chris King, Dr. Rachot Kanjanavanit, Al Chandler and Adolph Knees. It was yachting and Phuket aficionado M.L. Tridosyuth Devakul, better known as renowned architect and developer Mom Tri, who placed the resources of his recently opened Phuket Yacht Club Hotel at Nai Harn Bay in Phuket, at the Regatta organiser’s disposal.
The first Regatta began with a mixture of keelboats, catamarans, Lasers and even windsurfers. Few who were there at the time will ever forget Varuna member Reg Chambers, who sailed a Laser, calling “starboard” on a 45-ft keelboat, which had to give way.
Like any prominent yacht racing event, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has developed its own folk-lore. Scott McCook, for example, sailed his beach-launched catamaran up from Singapore, won all five races in one year, then sailed the small cat back to Singapore Harbour.
More 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, the Regatta annually features upwards of 100 boats and 2,000 participants, ranging from the high tech yachts in Racing Class, to live-aboard ocean cruisers, multihulls and classics.
International-standard race management has been combined with lively beach parties during regatta week to create this world-renowned yacht racing exhibition.
Kevin Whitcraft, President of the King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee explained the reasons behind why there are so many keen competitors each year; “If you were to ask any of the competitors that take part each year why they compete in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, you will get as many answers as there are competitors. For some it is the ideal of taking part; for others, it is the besting of their friends and colleagues. A handful are in it for the glory and it is always nice to take a trophy home.”
There are prizes up for grabs each night with trophies for first, second and third places in each class. Overall class trophies (first, second and third) are awarded at the end of the week for series winners. After a successful week of racing, a boat’s haul of trophies can easily fill a shelf or a suitcase.
The King’s Cup Trophy, the Royal Trophy, is very special. The original trophy is made from silver seated on a column of Ash wood and was deigned by ML Tridhosyuth Devakul, the original owner of Mom Tri’s Boathouse and one of the founders of the Phuket King’s Cup regatta back in 1987. The trophy features 9 sails rising up from a silver bed that represents the sea. On top of the sails is the symbol of His Majesty the King of Thailand, which is known as the Tra Sanyalak, along with his initials and the Thai symbol for 9 as the King is the ninth of this Dynasty. Surmounting all of this is the King’s crown, symbolising his patronage of the event. Winners of each class received a quarter size replica of the Royal Trophy.