The story of the three big sailing races in Thailand

Hello everyone!

I am going to tell you about the sailing regattas in warm places. Why be cold from December to March, if you, for example, can go to the regatta somewhere where it is warm? For at least ten days. I will tell you about the races I participated in and what I know firsthand.

To begin with, sailing in Thailand and around it is very warm! And sometimes the word «heat» does not really express it quite right! If you are planning to come to the regatta, you don’t have to take jackets, fleece sweatshirts, and boots! And this will help you save lots of space in your luggage. It will be enough to take some light clothing (a long sleeve and long pants), a cap, glasses, and sunscreen! You can get sunburnt in Thailand in 15 minutes, so sunscreen is an absolute must!

And if after reading the introduction, you have not yet changed your mind to fly here and participate in a regatta, I’ll tell you about the most exciting sailing «battles.»

The Bay Regatta

The most relaxed regatta in Thailand is held in the bay between the island of Phuket and Krabi. It is called «The Bay Regatta,» and it is held every year in the first decade of February. The start and finish are in Phuket, which is a very convenient place for gathering the team. Just because I called this regatta relaxed, it does not mean at all that it is boring! Firstly, all four racing distances are long but completely different. They go from island to island and between the islands — different beautiful islands. These islands are of different interesting shapes and are quite high! And of course, the height, size, and shape of the islands along the route affect changes in direction and strength of winds. And this makes it rather challenging to choose the tactics and strategy of the race. In terms of competitions, the regatta is exciting and also incredibly picturesque. In addition to the traditional opening and closing parties at the beginning and at the end of races, there are mini-parties with intermediate awards in each division every evening. A buffet, fruits, beer, wine, and local rum are essential components of each party.

I must say that you can leave the yacht and walk on the pier only in Phuket. In all other places, you will be delivered to the shore and back by «water taxis» — Thai motorboats. They are called «Long Tails» and look bright and unusual. And you will walk to the beach knee-deep in the water. This is unusual for Europe, but you are in Asia, so enjoy the local flavor! And most importantly, the Bay Regatta is a kind of cruise to several islands, but with races on the way, excitement, drive, and teamwork. Here you can gain skills in working with sails and ropes. Participating in this event will be interesting for both beginners and experienced yachtsmen.

Langkawi Race Week

A more difficult regatta is Langkawi Race Week. It is held annually in the first decade of January in the waters of Langkawi. This is the territory of the state of Malaysia, but you can get there by boat from Phuket in less than a day, and you can go fishing along the way. The yacht club in which the regatta fleet is placed has excellent infrastructure similar to any decent European yacht club. When I went there for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised: everything is clean, comfortable, and bright. Everything is nearby: a pool, services, shops, and cafes. But the races in this picturesque water area are not simple. During 5-6 days of competition, 7 or 8 races take place. These are mostly technical races around the buoys, but there is at least one «offshore» race with gates, buoys, and islands. A top division of racing yachts with a length of about 60-70 feet is a unique feature of the Langkawi Race Week. There are usually few of them, 4-5 boats in a group, but the sight is breathtaking. The teams are very diverse in terms of nationality, but, in general, there are very few Europeans. In addition to yachtsmen from Malaysia and Thailand, there are athletes from China, Vietnam, Korea, Australia, Indonesia, and the USA. They say that sometimes there are racers from New Zealand. Well, of course, there are a few pink-faced (from tanning) guys of Slavic appearance.

To sum it up: you must go to the Langkawi regatta! At least once! At least to see this Asian sailing mix. And after the races, you can stay here for a day or two to see the sights on the island. By the way, there are lots of duty-free shops all over the island. And you can fly to Kuala Lumpur for a day since you are in Malaysia anyway.

Phuket King’s CUP Regatta

And the name the third-largest regatta, which takes place annually in these parts of the world, speaks for itself: «Phuket King’s CUP Regatta.» It takes place in the first decade of December every year, near the west coast of Phuket. This is the most serious sailing competition in Thailand.

You can read the story of how it all started and what the King has to do with it on the official website: This regatta is huge. The fleet is extensive, so it is divided into three parts so that it is more convenient to conduct competitions. All kinds of yachts participate in the regatta: from 50-foot monsters to the small Optimists. There are six racing days. You must be at the start by 9 a. m. In general, everything is very serious. However, despite serious competitions, yachtsmen are very polite on the water. And it seems to me that this is the case in all the three regattas I talk about in this article. One of the reasons is that you can get disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior (even for obscene language). Keep this in mind. During the King’s CUP, there are several receptions with intermediate awards and a final award at the end of the regatta.

For the past 32 years, prizes have been awarded to the winners by the King of Thailand. They say he was not only a good yachtsman but also a wise ruler for many years. And if you speak badly of the King you can get into jail no matter what your passport is, and this is not a joke.

At the end of this article, I want to give a couple of tips:
If you decide to come to Thailand for any of the regattas, then start looking for a yacht well in advance. There are not many suitable yachts here.
When planning a trip, try to have the day before and a couple of days after the regatta. In the beginning, you will need to have some rest from traveling, and at the end, rest before going back. Learn some phrases in Thai. Or at least the word «thank you.» The shortest form of «thank you» sounds like a three-letter word: «cup.»

So, I will say «cup» to you for reading this article, and have a good day!