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Kings Cup News 2008

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 09, 2008 05:49 PM

Published: 2008-11-09 17:49:30
Countries: Thailand

Following a signing ceremony, held recently between Henri Young, Director of Sales & Marketing, Raimon Land PLC (R) and Kevin Whitcraft, President of the 2008 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organizing Committee, Thailand’s leading property developer agreed to under-write the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta for a further five years, from 2008-2012.

Henri Young pointed out that "Raimon Land has a long term commitment to support the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, now firmly established as one of the main sailing events in Asia."

Founded in 1987, as a 60th birthday tribute to HM King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, the King’s Cup, about to celebrate the 22nd sailing, has become the focal point in Thailand’s – especially, Phuket’s – burgeoning yachting, cruising and marine-leisure sector development industries.

The King’s Cup is traditionally sailed during the birthday week of King Bhumibhol, the Regatta Royal Patron who, as the world’s longest-reigning Monarch, will celebrate his 81st birthday on the fifth of December, 2008.

This year’s event will take place from the 29th November until the sixth of December 2008, during which it is anticipated some 2,000 sailors from more than 30 countries will participate.

Raimon Land PLC, a consistent and generous supporter of many sporting, social and cultural events in the Kingdom, sees yachting as a prime vehicle for its aim of "developing a better environment". Or, as Raimon Land CEO, Nigel Cornick expresses it: "The contribution to the Thai marine leisure industry is highly compatible with Raimon Land’s own life-style approach to development".

Each year, a long list of Regatta supporters joins Raimon Land and has done so over the two decades of the event. Mom Tri Devakul’s Boathouse and Grill on Kata Beach, one of the founding subscribers, reinforces the Kata Beach community interest while the Kata Beach Resort has continued as the Regatta home-base and management venue for the past decade.

Actually, the "uniqueness" of the King’s Cup – apart from the Phuket’s superb climate, the ambience and the camaraderie which engulf every event – is the fact that so many come back each year: sailors, race management, sponsors and supporters are almost all "recidivists".

As former President of the Organizing Committee (2004-2007) – and still a major driving force behind the Regatta’s outstanding success – Santi Kanchanabandhu said it so succinctly last week: "Every year there are new entries from around the world who soon join the regulars on the annual Phuket Pilgrimage, to race, socialize and be a part of the magnetic event," Santi noted.

"Our opening party and the following week’s festivities admirably reflect what is, perhaps, the largest social gathering of a world-wide sailing fraternity, who share the same passion for sailing and come to follow their dreams in one of the world’s most beautiful marine locations," he added.

It’s almost like a "family affair", enthuses Santi: the perennial, ongoing sponsors, the race management and the all-important members of the international jury, along with an army of volunteers, join in this great sail-fest year after year.

Even the Personal Representative of the HM the King, appointed each year by His Majesty to represent him at the elaborate Royal Awards Ceremony at the end of each regatta, has officiated at all except two events and knows many of the sailors personally. Rear Admiral M.L. Usni Pramoj has attended all of the 21 held so far since the inaugural in 1987, only missing those of 1988 and 1989. He even sailed on one occasion aboard Bill Gasson’s winning yacht.

Of course, the sophisticated Racing Class, one of the 10 usually accommodated in the Phuket racing, brings some of the world’s fastest yachts to Phuket each year, to compete for the top honours. The likes of Hong Kong’s Neil Pryde has vied a myriad times, winning the "Formula One" of the sea lanes, many times.

New Zealander Bill Gasson, based at the Ocean Marina Jomtien Beach (south of Pattaya), too, has been a triple winner of the Racing Class. But, his pedigree goes beyond simply racing. He is one of the founders of the King’s Cup and, in fact, Bill has been one of the most active promoters of yacht racing in the Kingdom, as the imprimatur of the Koh Samui and the Top of the Gulf Regattas.

But, reverting to the almost "family ambience" of the King’s Cup again, it is the stately Classic Class and the often live-aboard Ocean Rover cruisers which bring this almost- tangible atmosphere to successive Kings Cups.

Among other highly-competitive classes this year, will be the Sports Boats, designed, built and raced by Thailand’s indigenous and expatriate sailors and a new breed of fast-moving catamarans, the Vietnamese-built Corsair.

A keel-boat, especially designed for Thai waters and Thai conditions by leading naval architect Bruce Farr, is the Platu fleet which has a concentrated racing programme out of the ocean Marina. No doubt, supported year-round by Raimon Land, this class will be a feature.

And, the yachties, with or without a wonderful sailing environment, expect the best possible race management. And, every year the Regatta Organizing Committee ensures fair, exciting and safe sailing.

As in every international Yacht racing event, the world authority, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has designated top-class judges for the 2008 Phuket King’s Cup, headed by world-renowned Olympic judge and arbiter of the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing, Bryan Willis, from the UK.

Bryan will be joined by other top professionals, Australian Mark Pryke,Thailand’s Radm Prasart Sribhadung and Rut Subniran, Malaysian Leonard Chin, Hong Kong’s Tom Sheppard, Wayne Boberg of New Zealand and Thai-based US lawyer, Al Chandler.

Race management will also be looked after by another top professional, Sunsail’s Simon James, already into his second decade of on-water management, working with his assigned principal race officer(s) and management team.