In 2014, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has implemented widespread changes to its class structures, all based on a burning desire by race management to offer close-hauled parry between similarly competitive craft.
By the end of Race Day One, a glance at the provisional timings was enough to confirm that it was working. The 2014 Phuket King’s Cup brought class battles settled by seconds – moments of highly charged competition reflective of changes to class groupings to bring in exactly this. Now, through proactive planning and a constant need to reinvent itself as the premium benchmark, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has delivered in second-split droves.
“Our entrants are grouped very closely now so that all boats race in the same conditions, so for 2014 there are lots of one-on-ones, as opposed to it being one big time trial,” explained Simon James, Race Director for the 2014 Phuket King’s Cup. “The weather is very localised in Thailand, so you have tiny microsystems even along a one-mile stretch of course – we now have boats racing in exactly the same conditions. Historically, you would find that certain boats don’t come to some regattas because they believe they will not be competitive, but now there is so much more incentive for them to be here.”
This year, the magnetic pull of this classic race drew 93 keelboats and multihulls from 16 countries. It was not the biggest fleet in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta’s history, but it has resulted in probably the most competitive – and the closest in terms of corrected finishing times.
“We can’t bear the thought of beautiful grand prix racers sat in port, so now there is massive impetus for them to be here racing with us,” said Simon. The result is a hundred threads to a very cosmopolitan sailing story – from the hundred-foot-plus’ers of Premier Class down to the Modern Classic certification designed to amplify the intensity of close-quarters action amongst pre-1985 older Phuket-based boats; everyone is invited to the party. The winds may be light, but it’s hot, sunny, fun and extremely competitive, especially among the many new entrants this year.
The attraction of the King’s Cup has always remained in part the vastly diverse fleet it is able to draw and embed in the annals of its legacy. This has had a knock-on effect in bringing more Thai sailors, particularly young sailors, to the regatta. One such competitor is Sinsupa “Mink” Wannasuth, young skipper of a 25-foot Platu, who marks her first competitive sailing event in charge of a keelboat.
She explained the inescapable pull of this colourful and fun event: “Having sailed since the age of eight in Optimists off the coast of Sattahip with many of the competitors here, it is a warm environment which encourages others to join and discover the enjoyment of sports sailing. The great many classes mean that there are often crews looking for sailors, so it is a welcoming world in which to develop as a sports sailor. The diversity is amazing; the race management is so excellent, it gets better every year.”
The 2014 King’s Cup marks the 28th year of this classic sailing event under Thai Royal Patronage. Few other international regattas offer the heritage, epically close contests, camaraderie and colourful diversity of the Phuket King’s Cup, a fitting testament to the quality of Thailand as a sailing destination; and, of the considerable effort that goes in year after year in making this the region’s most closely fought top-tier regatta.
– PKC Media