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The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

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Boating and Phuket: Boating has always played an important part in  the economy and development of Phuket Island. At one time, it was a weigh station for boats traveling between China, India and Indonesia. Ships docked at the island’s fine east coast harbors to escape seasonal storms, and simply to allow crews some rest and relaxation. Today, Phuket Island has become one of the world’s leading centers for recreational boating.
A Boater’s Paradise: Phuket Island is well suited for sailing. The water is beautiful and clean, and the weather usually cooperative. Many smaller island surround Phuket and make ideal destinations. Today, Phuket Island has five major marinas, more than 800 births and over 200 specialty shops to serve the island’s boaters. There are more than 15 charter boat companies located on Phuket Island and they have  a combined fleet of more than 150 vessels. Sailing is becoming more and more important on Phuket Island as its development is being actively encouraged by the Thai government and the  tourism industry in  efforts to encourage high end tourism.
The King’s Cup is Born: the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (PKCR) was inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a sailing enthusiast and actual competitor. It was and is sponsored by the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and has received Royal patronage from the very beginning. The Thai Royal Navy and the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand also gave initial support. The PKCR was held at Kata Beach, a west coast harbor south of Karon Beach and near the southern island tip, during the first week of December, the time of the King’s birthday, which is December 5th. Twenty or so vessels and crews participated.
The PKCR Today: the PKCR is still held off of Kata Beach during the first week of December. The number of sponsors has increased and now includes Kata Group Resorts Thailand, Siam Winery, Chang Beer, Kata Rocks, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, Mom Tri’s Boat House and the Mooring, Blue Wave 90.5 FM, Indigo Media, Multihull World, Helicam Asia, Helm Superyacht Asia Pacific, The Nation, The Phuket Gazette, Prestige Thailand, Sail World.com,  and  Yachtstyle. About 100 vessels compete, each having a crew of approximately twenty sailors. Competitors come from all over the world, especially Hong Kong, Singapore, China, the Philippines, and, of course, Thailand. The PKCR is a multiclass competition, so spectators can view a variety of sailing vessels. The competition is internationally recognized for its excellence, having received the “Yachting Event of the Year” at the Christopffe Asia Boating Awards in 2006.
A Challenge to all Good Sailors: The five day event is organized into almost 60 courses along the southern and southeastern and southwestern Phuket Island coast line. The various courses vary in length from around 25 miles to 40 miles. Skippers and crews must be on their toes at all times to navigate these courses successfully!!
A Lovely Trophy: the winner of the PKCR receives a silver trophy sitting on a column of ash wood embossed with the name of the PKCR. There are nine beautiful sails coming from the expanding silver column. They symbolize the Royal Thai Dynasty. A top the column is a symbol of the present Thai King, including the His Majesty’s initials and the Royal Crown at the very top. At the base of the column, the sea is represented. It is a champion’s trophy for a champion!!
Fun and Good Times: The PKCR is known as a time of festivity and partying. Many parties are officially recognized and are held under the auspices of official sponsors such as the Centara Grand Beach Resort. Money flows and top rated Thai musicians entertain. Race participants are almost always assured invitations but tickets can be obtained by others through various sources. One of the most impressive events is the candle-lighting ceremony held in front of the Boathouse Resort at the end of the race to celebrate the King’s birthday. The competing crews and skippers hold up candles and sing the Thai National Anthem. Of course, there are many unofficial activities throughout Kata Beach where visitors can simply drink and party themselves silly!!
Be a Participant: it might be hard to believe, but most of the participating boats arrive at the competition short handed. Skippers actively recruit crew to man the boats during the race. Folks with some skills and levels of fitness can easily participate in the races if they wish. This is not a great opportunity to make money, but those participating are assured of receiving tickets to official night time festivities.
Enter Your Boat: it is also relatively easy to enter a sailing vessel in the race. All that is necessary to do is to complete a one page online application and submit an entry fee of 17,600 baht. The application should be received by November 1st, otherwise the entry fee increases to 25,000 baht. An additional fee of 4,000 baht per crew member is also required but this provides crew members with access to all official night time functions.
Where to Stay: December is part of the Phuket Island “high season,” the time when tourism is at its peak and Kata Beach is not a particularly large place. Therefore, it is advisable to make reservations ahead of time. It is also possible to stay at other nearby locations on the island, such as Karon Beach, Nai Harn Beach, Rawai Beach, and Chalong. Other areas farther away, such as Patong Beach and Phuket town, are also doable. Participants in the race can receive help from race organizers.
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