Phuket has long been well known as a major yachting destination. As the host of The Phuket King's Cup Regatta every December, Asia's biggest and most popular regatta, the island attracts boats from around the globe year round. Other high profile sailing events on Phuket include the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, always held over the Chinese New Year in January or February and Six Senses Phuket Raceweek in July, considered by many sailors as one of the most challenging and exciting yacht races in Asia.
Phuket's smaller sister, Koh Samui, has also built a solid reputation for top class sailing. The island's tropical regatta is now in its 10th year and has long been considered one of the region's most glamorous and appealing sailing events. As the final regatta in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix season, the competition now attracts some of the best yachts and crews in Asia, as well as a large number of spectators who descend on the island to enjoy the top flight sailing, fun-filled atmosphere and many other events that take place during this action packed week at the beginning of June.
The Sawadee.com Regatta 2011 will feature up to six sailing classes – Racing, Premier, IRC, IRC 2/Sportboats, Bareboat Charter and Multihulls – ensuring that the on-water action is both competitive and fun to watch. With points awarded based on racing class skippers' and yachts performances' over 10, 5-Star sailing events that make up the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship, competition is fierce when the boats finally descend on Samui. The AYGP system provides coveted recognition for competing boat owners, based on their ability to successfully run a major racing campaign through Asian waters over an extended season. The final results are often decided at the Samui Regatta, which makes for a highly competitive, but also jovial atmosphere both before and during the daily races. Regular names on the circuit include Ray Roberts, skipper of Transpac52 class Evolution Racing, Neil Pryde who sails the Welbourn 52 custom Hi Fi and Frank Pong with his Reichel Pugh 75 Jelik III. Races combine long distance jaunts to offshore islands with tighter contests 'around the cans' directly of Chaweng Beach. The superbly located Centara Grand Beach Resort has hosted the event ever since its inception, offering top class hospitality and exceptional facilities, as well as hosting daily post race gatherings as the specially established Regatta Tavern, as well as the extravagant Gala Dinner on the resort's expansive lawns with an extravagant buffet to accompany the final AYGP awards ceremony.
During the day, spectators can watch the sailing action from the comfort of a spectator boat, while in the evenings they can party the night away at one of the many regatta events taking place across the island. This year, a number of additional events are being organised on Samui to coincide with the 10th Samui Regatta, these include a choice of professional business seminars such as a Social Media Marketing for Hotels and Small Businesses session and a Public Speaking Conference, both on Wednesday June 1st. There will also be a beach clean-up event held in conjunction with the International School Samui and supported by a number of local businesses, while for golf lovers, a stroke play tournament is being held at the world class Santiburi Golf Course. Meanwhile, budding photographers can join an Underwater and Documentary Photographer Training seminar. For those who would like to make Koh Samui their second or holiday home destination, a special Property Exhibition at Centara will showcase some the island's finest villas and apartments, while motoring enthusiasts can drop into the Supercar Rally at the Anantara Lawana Resort.
The Samui Regatta is also known for its extravagant parties, which take place in the evenings during race week. The opening party at Zico's Bar and Grill is always a memorable night, with Brazilian dance performances and great music. This year there will also feature a Luxury Network Party and Rachel S Swimwear Fashion Show at the KC Resort in Chaweng. The island's favourite beach club, Beach Republic, will also host what is billed as "one of the wildest parties Samui has seen", a true luxury lifestyle event with fine cocktails, free flowing champagne, top notch DJs, live performances and a spectacular fireworks display. Professional Bangkok based event organisers MobyElite took over the Samui Regatta back in 2007 and Web Sawadee came on board as a principle partner soon afterwards, raising the profile of the event and ensuring its longevity and reputation. With continued success, the tropical island regatta has become well known amongst yachties throughout the region and provides a fitting finale to the Asian Yachting Grand Prix season.
By Jules Kay