Phuket's famous international yachting event, The King's Cup Regatta, returns to the azure waters of the Andaman Ocean in December for a week of partying, sailing, good company and great fun. The sailing festival is a prominent event on the Asian yacht-racing calendar.
The event started in 1987 to celebrate late King Bhumibol's birthday on December 5. A yachting enthusiast himself, King Bhumibol also happened to be patron of the King's Cup. The King's Cup Regatta attracts some of the world's best yachtsmen, yachtswomen and their expensive boats to the waters of Kata Beach, off the island's west coast, where these local and visiting sailors vie for the coveted trophy, creating a truly spectacular sight in the process. The races often begin in early December, lasting for a week.
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Get in on the sailing action
Many visitors to Phuket are often surprised during the races as although Kata Beach swarms with yachtsmen in their racing regalia and boats line the horizon, many yachts are under-crewed. As a visitor, this creates a perfect opportunity to take part, especially if you have some sailing experience under your belt.
If being out on the water all day doesn't tickle your fancy, you don't have to step aboard to be part of the action. You can readily get involved, on a land-based level, by partying well into the night at one of the many regatta shindigs. They're often generally preceded by a banquet.
Phuket King's Cup Regatta
During the event, when not out racing, the yachts are anchored off Kata Beach. Before and after each race, the southern end of this stretch of sand comes alive with dinghies ferrying seafarers, sails and other sailing paraphernalia ashore. The boats make a truly picturesque sight and avid photographers shouldn't pass up this opportunity to get some great shots. Sunrise and sunset with the yachts in the foreground during race days can be truly breathtaking captures.
Prizes are usually given just after dinner, and the parties begin right after. With musicians, local and international bands, Thai dance performances and other activities such as fireworks displays, they're not to be missed. Not only are these gatherings good on a merrymaking level, but to add to the experience you're bound to rub shoulders with at least one well-known sailing personality.
One of the highlights of every King's Cup is the candle-lighting ceremony held in front of the Boathouse Resort on Kata Beach to celebrate the late king's birthday. It's an impressive sight with more than 1,000 skippers and their crews holding up candles while a choir sings the Thai national anthem.
A number of yachts require extra crew members with sailing experience, and if you're fit and would like to join in, don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance. An added bonus is that the crew fee includes party tickets. Email the King's Cup Regatta committee at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.