THE KING'S CUP,  PHUKET                                                                                                     

Dec 3

As we approached Phuket Island from a few miles off, we could see skyscrapers, ports, cruise ships and all the signs of a big city. Phuket is Thailand's largest island and a mjor tourist destination. Our first order of business was to check in to Thailand so we anchored in Ao Chalong, the main harbor. We were able to dinghy to the long main dock where there was easy access to Customs, Immigration and the Harbor Master.

Once formalities were completed, we weighed anchor and continued around the south end of Phuket to Kata Beach. Kata Beach was the headquarters for the King's Cup Regatta.


It was easy to spot the anchorage, already packed with racing boats from all over the world. We dropped our hook next to Gone with the Wind several hundred meters from a long sandy beach covered with endless rows of purple umbrellas over lounge chairs draped with oily sunbathers.

We went for lunch on the beach at a little Thai Restaurant, a forever after  favorite spot for a quick lunch.


It did not take us long to find the Reggae Bar, which soon became our preferred local hangout.

King's Cup   http://www.kingscup.com

The Phuket King's Cup Regatta is Asia's biggest and most popular regatta. More than a regatta, the week long event consists of great parties, great sailing and lots of fun.

Not only had there been a record set at the 20th King’s Cup Regatta for total entries - 101, it has become one of the most international of all regattas sailed around the world, with owners, skippers and crew members coming from many countries including Japan, Russia, Australia, Great Britain, Spain, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, France, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, Nederlands, Denmark, Croatia, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King of Thailand, the event has been held every year since during the first week of December.

December 4

Early morning race preparation did nothing to improve the unfavorable race conditions in store for Day 1 of the King's Cup. The 8 am start was a definite drifter but the scene was impressive with a hundred boats, sails flogging in the still waters, vying for their position near the star line.

The course was a long one, made even longer by the lack of wind. Just when we thought that the finish line was in sight and there was a possibility of reaching it before the elapsed time, the current actually carried us backward, away from the finish line. The whistle blew and we were unable to finish.

King's Cup Welcome Party & BBQ

The evening began with the first of the series of parties put on for the King's Cup contestants. Every event was held at a 5+ star hotel and included enormous Thai buffets, entertainment and free booze!! Some of the hotels were in other areas of Phuket  and we were provided with transportation to each of the venues.

The Welcoming Party featured a Pirate Theme with decorated ships and boats floating in the pool. There was entertainment, fire dancing, and an overwhelming amount of food and beverages.

December 5 

Another day with very little wind. Before the race began, we participated in the Kings Cup Parade, all wearing our yellow shirts (the King's color) as we sailed by the Navy ship, lined with officials in full military attire saluting us.


Racing with a Handicap

We drifted through the course, wondering why we were having so much trouble tacking the boat. It simply would not respond to the helm. Gord was in charge of the main and used it to turn the boat by backwinding the foresail. It wasn't until after the race, when Liam dove Gone with the Wind, it was discovered that the cat was missing a rudder! It was determined that it must have dropped off when he bumped a reef in Rok Muk the week before.

Winning the Round!!

Despite the handicap and the light winds, we had a terrific finish, winning ahead of many seasoned racers... a real upset for all the die hard, dedicated racers that had come miles in their serious race boats with sponsors and crews of 10 and 15 on each boat.  And here we beat them, racing our heavy houses laden with pots and pans and whatnot!!! with only a group of fun loving fellow cruisers. We had a wonderful celebratory happy hour that evening.

The King's Birthday Party

Thousands of Rally participants and organizers attended the elebrations for the King's Birthday, everyone wearing the symbolic yellow shirts. After the food and beer flowed, everyone was given candles to commemorate His day.

Awards Presentations

Our happy crew took to the stage to receive our first place award in the Multihull division  amidst the flashing from photographers and cheers from our friends.

Our friends on Calypso JJ also had an insurmountable win in their Ocean Rover division.

Dec 6

As the threat of an impending cyclone made for the choice to remain on the boat, Gord went racing and I stayed behind.

As a result of trying to decide whether to race or not, they were late leaving the anchorage and hightailed it to the start area as fast as possible in time to see their entire class crossing the start line. Engine off, they drifted across the start line with the following monohull class.

It was a long race of endurance, becalmed most of the time and drifting backward a lot as well. However after a torturous 8 hours on the water they managed to cross the finish line 16 minutes in front of the deadline for timeout of the race.

They were pretty confident that they had again won another race. However, back at the anchorage they discovered that a protest had been called because they used their engine too close to the start of the race.

It was very late when the race ended but we made a quick decision to pull anchor and move around to Chalong Bay where there would be more protection if the wind picked up. We arrived just after dark making it difficult to find a spot amidst the mooring balls and fishing boats. Once secure,  we piled into the dinghy for a fast trip to shore to catch a “tuk-tuk” back to the resort as Liam had to attend his trial for protest. Gord and I continued on to the function & award winning at Karon Beach.


Partying at Karon Beach

We got there in time for a delicious meal and a few drinks. The award presentations had started and Liam and Annie were still not there! It turned out that there were 22 protests registered that day and one mediator to deal with them all.  Gord went to the podium to accept the second place award for Gone with the Wind.

We waited several more hours then when the party was coming to a close we thought we better head back to the resort at Kata Beach to search for GWTW. We caught the free shuttle and found them bedraggled, still hanging outside the protest room awaiting their turn, having missed dinner and the entire party!

We waiting around the hotel until Liam and Annie were finally called in. Because the protest was made completely without the proper procedures being followed, the case was thrown out but it cost GWTW a stressful night and a missed awards night.

We caught the bus back to Chalong Bay and enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor, thankful that the winds did not materialize to any significance.

December 7

The following morning we sailed back to Kata Beach with wind (finally). However when we arrived at the King’s Cup anchorage there was complete chaos.  Boats were dragging and colliding everywhere. Many boats had drifted out toward sea, no one on board as it was the day off for the races and people were in town sightseeing. Even the navy boat was dragging!

We passed one of the race boats about ¾ mile offshore just drifting. Stardust was attempting to go alongside and rescue the vessel. Eventually Becky was able to jump onboard and secure lines to tie his boat to theirs and tow him into shallow water.

December 8   

A glorious morning sail for the Phuket Kings Cup fleet, with boats enjoying 13-16 knot breezes and brilliant sunlight.

Spinnakers made their appearance several times during the windward leeward race.

We had an exciting race, and here we send jokes back and forth as we pass Tony on Tactical Directions

That evening's entertainment was held at the Royal Phuket Yacht Club. Since we had made a reservation at this marina, we were keen to see the facility. The Royal Phuket Marina will be a beautiful marina…some day. But right then it was a disappointing construction sight with only a promise of restaurants, pool, and transportation.

The entertainment was interesting with Elvis front and center. We also had our first introduction to LadyBoys. These beautiful Thai dancers had us totally fooled until someone told us that they were boys!!

Final Act Rests with the Wind

December 9    Racing got away on the final day in a light north easterly breeze. The short trapezoid course brought everyone the hopes for glory and bragging rights for Christmas.

Midway through the race, with a lot of hard work and tactics, Gone with the Wind had a significant lead when a sheer in the wind developed across the course.

Suddenly  a lack of breeze forced us right into a hole. As we sat becalmed, the boats behind us enjoyed reasonably brisk conditions and happily caught up. Effectively a restart occurred with two legs to go. Any advantage we had was washed away in the current. When the fleet was sufficiently bunched up the breeze then swept across the course further helping the back markers and effectively sealing the fate of the leaders.

With every scrap of canvas hanging out we used the wind to best advantage and Gone with the Wind slid through pack, neck in neck with our opponents. But in the end we were victorious once again and won the race! Our first placing in the heat lifted us to second overall, and we were all thrilled!

The Royal Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony was by invitation only and an unbelievably formal event. Through His personal Representative His Majesty the King bestowed the King's Cup Trophy to the winners.

Men had to wear collared shirts, long trousers and proper shoes (which cruisers don't own!) and the women had to have long skirts and closed toed shoes (I had to borrow!). Strict silence and a lot of bowing, as the King is highly revered and respect demanded.

Stringent protocol for accepting awards was mandatory, with bowing to be done at the appropriate times and places. Above Liam tries to adhere to the rules.

The winners received trophies and second place were awarded beautiful hand painted copper inlaid bowls. In addition, the winners received a huge framed picture of the King! What an appropriate item for a boat with no walls.

Pictured right: our crew - Ginny, Gord, Annie, captain Liam, Phil, Pete

Afterward there was a huge party with dinner and all the free drinks you could want, not just beer and wine but anything! Gord took advantage of the generosity and drank 18 year old single malt scotch all night long.

Dancin' in the Smoke

The entertainment was superb with a band made up of international musicians (2 from Canada!) some of which had a Latin American flavor, There were about 800 people  dancing amidst the eerie ambiance of the smoke machine. Not a still body in the house as the beat of the music impelled one and all to move to the music.

We were all in an elevated mood, celebrating our victory and very ready to party on.....

The party moved down the beach, where again unlimited free drinks flowed liberally. Jam packed with people, you had to dance your way through the crowd to get to the bar.

The mob consisted of not only Rally contestants but media, organizers, sponsors, owners, and local crashers.

Then at midnight came some amazing fireworks that seemed to go on forever, silhouetting the palm trees around the exclusive hotel beach resort and swimming pool  dotted with floating model yachts.

Just when we thought the fun was finished an announcement informed us that the party down the beach was only just beginning!

Foam Party

Then a bubble machine turned the area into a waist high foam bath. Everyone played and danced in the bubbles  We met lots of locals, many who came for a holiday and just stayed!

I am not sure what time it was when we finally returned to the boat but the sun was coming up and a new day had begun!

December 11

We had lunch at our favorite Thai Restaurant on the beach. Phil had bought all the girls beautiful leis which we proudly modeled. Pictured left is Phil, Annie, Sarah, Gord, Ginny.






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