Southeast Asia’s biggest and prestigious sailing regatta opened its 32nd edition in grand style. This year the focus was split between keelboats, multihulls and the next generation of sailors in the International Dinghy classes. Initially dedicated to HM the late King Bhumi-bol Adulyadej for his passion and support for the sport of sailing and now in honor of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayava-rangkun, sailors have come to expect a week of fast and furious sailing action. The longstanding spiritual home of the King’s Cup, the stylish Beyond Resort Kata, rolled out the red carpet and welcomed sailors from all over the world.
Seventy-one yachts in eleven classes registered (24 IRC racers, 31 cruisers and 16 multihulls). The regatta also encompasses a fast-growing International Dinghy racing program, for Optimist Boy & Girl, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial, Laser Standard, 420 and Topper dinghy's, designed to promote and encourage youth and Olympic sailing in Thailand. Plus provide sustainable growth to the Thai marine industry, as these young sailors, can expect to go on and become crew on keelboat/multihull racing teams and compete in future years.
Four top racing teams competed for the IRC 0 title. At the recent Raja Muda Regat-ta, Sarab Singh's Welbourn 52 Windsikher II proved that PKCR Chairman Kevin Whitcraft's all-conquering TP52 THA 72 is fallible and aimed to repeat the dose on their home waters. All eyes were on Ray Roberts new generation TP52 Team Hollywood (Ex Provezza) that was specially acquired to overcome THA 72's dom-inance at Asian regattas. After a long absence, Marcel Liedts returned on his Ker 46 Zannekin and while the big boats fight over line honours, they are aiming to indulge in the handicap stakes.
Of the six IRC 1 yachts entered, Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Sydney GTS 43 Man-drake III was the defending champion, Scott Bradley's Sydney 40 Emagine, Craig Douglas' Farr 40 Ramrod are used to winning titles, but it's a different story at the King's Cup. They line up against Mati Sepp's chartered Swan 42 Club Loco representing Estonia, Craig Nicholls top performing Sydney 40 Mod Aquari II and the Russians on Alexey Mashkins Cookson 12m MegaZip, who save their best performances for Asia's premier event each year
An interesting eleven-boat lineup in the IRC 2 class sees different performance- orient-ed designs. The defending champion Mumm 30 Judy returns as Highlead Encourage and 2nd placed China's Shen Sheng on Farr 1104 Big Boys Racing (Farrgo Express) aim to go one better this time. They face stiffer competition, in the form of Rob Carr's J 130 Jing Jing, Andrew
McDermott's Corby 36 Jessandra II, Arnold van Tulder's Farr 41 MX Octopussy, Shane Armit-age's Farr 1104 Piccolo and Team Ludwigsthal's Ker 32CR Ludwigsthall (Getaway Ichi) have stepped on the podium here before. Morton Jakobsen's relatively unknown VX One Design Sportsboat Over Here could surprise, while John Grendon Frers 41 Di Hard has some history on his side. Racing two-handed in the recent Raja Muda, Aussie Max Palleschi's IOR Farr 40 Prime Factor, cleaned up in the IRC 4 class and hopes to carry on with that form. Urii Firsov's IOR Farr 43 Uminoko steps up this year after decimating the Cruising Class last year.
Three yachts in the Premier Cruising Class face an uphill task of stopping Thailand's Ithinai Yingsiri's X55 Pine-Pacific from making it five victories in a row. Geoff Hill's Smith 72 Antipodes are always up for a good fight and aim to make up for last year’s final race disappoint-ment. Having the lowest IRC rating, Andy Cocks Beneteau First 50 Firstlight are looking to come from behind and leave their mark in the handicap stakes.
The bulk of the monohull entries come in the Bareboat A & B (15), Modern Classic (4) and Cruising (12) classes. They aren't just here to make up the numbers but are seriously con-testing the class titles, while having fun in the exotic tropics. Entries in these classes represent the United Nations of Sailing, with the Russians coming in force with 11 entries, followed by the Chinese with (7), Japan (3) and one apiece from New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, United Kingdom, Austria, Australia and Malaysia.
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