A fast, ocean-going yacht sailed by an all-woman crew will be part of the record number of entries at the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, which will celebrate its 20th year when Asia’s biggest sailing event kicks off in the first week of December.
The all-woman crew will be sailing Tag, a sleek yacht with a good racing pedigree under owner Mike Downard. But the competition will be tough. Most of the yachts from last year’s regatta are returning, while a host of new entries have come in from all around the world. A number of yachts from mainland China have also entered, with Chinese sailors trying to gain as much experience as possible before the Beijing Olympics.
As well as the Chinese, there will also be a strong Japanese contingent, with four Platus (Beneteau 25s) entered with crews from Japan. Platus are small keelboats especially designed for Thai waters by yachting legend Bruce Farr.
Many former winners will be back trying to win the coveted King’s Cup this year, and the competition is expected to be even tougher. Among the former winners returning for another shot at the elusive trophy will be Australian Maid (2003 Premier Cruising Class), owned by John Wardill, and Neil Pryde’s High Fi (1998, 2001 and 2004 Racing Class). Both skippers are highly competitive, and some exciting racing is expected on the Andaman Sea.
Like all international standard sailing races, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has the full support of the ISAF, the international body which oversees sailing events around the world, and this year Phuket’s biggest sporting event has some world-class officials in charge of the action on the water. Internationally renowned sailing official Bryan Willis, who has overseen five Olympic Games’ sailing events and has been involved in six America’s Cups as a rules advisor and chief umpire – and will be the Jury Chairman at next year’s America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain - has agreed to play a leading role in this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. Willis has agreed to fill the vacuum left by regular Phuket King’s Cup official Mark Pryke who will be on duty at the region’s biggest sporting event, the Asian Games.
Santi Kanchanabandhu, President of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Committee, said,
'this year’s regatta, which is our 20th anniversary, is shaping up as record year in the number of entries, and with our expert team of officials in place we can now guarantee that the racing will be run to the highest international standards.'
With a record number of entries and with some special celebrations planned – along with a special commemorative book – this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta promises to be the biggest and best sailing event ever held in Asia.
One of the highlights of this year’s regatta will be the closely-fought duels between the super-fast Firefly catamarans, which have been designed and built in Phuket. Australian yacht designer Mark Pescott designed the fast, ocean-going catamarans and they are built by another Australian, Mark Horwood, at his Latitude 8 boatyard in Phuket. One of the Firefly cats holds the Thai sailing speed record, and the four or five which are expected to enter this year’s regatta could top the speed record if the winds blow.
The social side to the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is legendary in sailing circles and this year promises it be bigger and better than ever, with some of the main sponsors planning some stunning entertainment. Main sponsor Raimon Land, one of Thailand’s most successful property developers, sponsor a number of sporting events in Thailand and are renowned for throwing the best parties in the region. They have promised that this year will be no exception. 'We have some first-class international entertainment lined up during the regatta and this year looks like being even better than last year,' said Henri Young from Raimon Land. 'We are happy to support not only one of Thailand’s biggest sporting events, but also Asia’s biggest sailing extravaganza.'
This year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta will be sailed over five days, in the first week of December to coincide with His Majesty the King’s birthday on 5 December.
For more information on the event, go to www.kingscup.com