Established in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King of Thailand, The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is the most famous gathering of competitive sailors and spectators on the Asian yachting calendar. The annual week-long event is known globally for fun and excitement both on and off the water.
The 27th Phuket King's Cup regatta takes place this year from from 1- 6 December with skippers and their crew from around the world competing in what are always tight races out in the waters of the Andaman Sea.
Held off Kata Beach on the southwest coast of Phuket, the event is the fifth point scoring regatta in the annual Asian Yachting Grand Prix (AYGP) Championship and often proves to be a key result for the eventual series winners. It is therefore hotly contested and attracts a truly international array of vessels in a wide range of sailing classes, all hoping to take home a coveted King’s Cup trophy.
This year, over 100 vessels will follow a series of challenging courses off Phuket, with the races covering every type of craft from Grand Prix racing boats to racing catamarans, as well as various types of leisure sailing and cruising vessel.
The yachts are divided into classes according to IRC handicap bands, based on factors such as length, sail measurements, design and style of construction. The classes included IRC Zero (for international Grand Prix boats), IRC One, IRC Two, Firefly 850 Sports, Multihull, Bareboat, Plateau One Design, Modern Classic/ Cruising, Classic and Premier categories.
In recent years, the regatta has seen an increasing number of “Bareboat” entries, with owners or charter guests sailing their own yachts without racing standard equipment or professional crew. To meet this demand, a new Bareboat Charter division has been added to the regatta classes this year to address any disparities between professional and amateur teams, making for some very open racing.
A youth dinghy race series always precedes the King’s Cup regatta and its ever growing popularity underlines the importance of sailing in Thailand, especially among young people. The best young Optimist and Laser sailors from Phuket will also take part in the International Dinghy Class during the Regatta, where they will compete with other top sailors from around Thailand and Asia in a 4-day series race in Kata Bay.
Captains, crew and spectators arrive on Phuket every December not only to enjoy the racing, but also to experience the legendary Thai hospitality offered nightly at parties hosted by various sponsoring venues. This year sees Thailand’s Singha Corporation sponsoring the event for the third year, along with Siam Winery’s Mont Clair South African Wines joining for the sixth year. Kata Group Resorts Thailand is he host sponsor for the 15th year running, and the nightly parties attract crowds of over 1,500 people, making the event one of the island’s biggest social gatherings.
In 1987, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was the first event of its kind to take place on Thailand’s most visited holiday island. It has since been joined by several other major international regattas off the Andaman coast, including the Bay Regatta in February and Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek in July. Over the past 26 years, the original regatta has grown into the largest sailing event of its kind in Asia, attracting 1,000 plus participants every year.
At the end of an exciting week, the Royal Awards Ceremony is presided over by H.E. Admiral Mom Luang Usni Pramoj, Personal Representative of His Majesty the King of Thailand. It is a unique aspect to this Royal Regatta, and a fitting finale to one of the region’s most prestigious events.
by MAX VEE