by Rob Kothe
The Phuket King’s Cup sailing regatta has, over the last 26 years, had a significant impact on sailing across Asia.
Superb conditions Phuket King’s Cup crusing fleets 2012
It is the largest sailing event in Asia. On the world stage it has become the keelboat regatta that has the greatest number of nations competing each year and now the event is set to step up to the next level. .
The event is much admired and each year ever increasing numbers of race officials from around Asia visit the event, to learn from its successes.
Phuket King's Cup Regatta 2011 - Simon James, Race Director
Today we talked to Regatta Director Simon James who has been involved in the race management since 1996 and took up his current role in 2001.
James detailed some the plans for the future of this prestigious event.
‘While the overall Asian sailing scene is growing rapidly it is from a small base so we still have a smallish captive audience at this stage.
‘We are constantly fine tuning our King’s Cup classes looking carefully at the boats in the region to ensure we are providing the most attractive options to bring skippers and crews to the event.
‘We have been very pleased with the development of our 40 footer keelboat classes. As our organising committee chairman Kevin Whitcraft says, our IRC division 1 fleet is amongst the strongest in the world, every bit as competitive as any in the Asia Pacific.
‘The mix of boats in the region is changing. We are seeing that the owners of the bigger boats are getting older on average as the smaller boats are gaining in popularity. Now the 40 foot group of boats has become almost the Asian One Design circuit.
Phuket King's Cup 2012. KukuKERchu.
‘Now owners are saying we are getting competitive racing and it is costing us less money to go to an event.
‘Consider for a moment Australia’s Matt Allen who has been campaigning for a long time in Asia, now he has brought to the event his improved Adams 10. He has a boat that is based here which is trailable and containable. So he does not need to sail around from Singapore all the way up to the other side if we want to relocate to the side of the Gulf. And crew costs go down. He can race with six crew instead of a cast of thousands. All in all a very attractive package.
‘As we are close to maximizing our local attendance, our aim now is to try and bring in some of the one design classes from around the world.
‘The Phuket King’s Cup now has the infrastructure to run World Championships, Asian Championships, National Championships. We are now making proposals to various classes world-wide saying bring your championships here.
Windsurfing Heaven - Phuket King's Cup 2012
‘This is a very attractive venue as we have proven for keelboats but we do off the beach dinghies and multihulls in just the same way. We have deep sea ports. This is part of a massive shipping area so containers of boats can come in if needed.
‘There is growing recognition amongst the keelboat and off the beach classes of just what an attractive venue this has become.
‘The biggest ambassadors we have for the regatta are the competitors. As the event is now in its 26th year we have the children of earlier competitors racing at this event.
‘Now the international sailing community has begun to realise that Asia is not just a place you fly over to get somewhere else. Phuket is a very popular tourism destination and the regatta is proving very attractive for sailors and their families as part of holiday packages, with direct flights from key areas of the world. This makes the event a very strong contender for World Championships. in years to come.
'You only have to consider that in just five years we have gone from one or two Russian entries to 17 this year because of the large charter fleets in the region.
‘The Asian tourism and sailing scene is exploding and as a result the future for the Phuket King’s Cup is looking very bright.’