The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, held every December, attracts more and more Thai sailors each year and the 2011 edition saw Thai sailors taking podium places throughout the series.
The Royal Thai Navy based in Sattahip entered two boats into the competitive IRC2 racing class, skippered by Chief Petty Officer First Class Wiwat Poonpat (Royal Thai Navy 1) and CDR Pornprom Sakultem (Royal Thai Navy 4). The Royal Thai Navy teams have sailed consistently well at recent regattas in Thailand, and true to Thailand’s history as a successful sports sailing nation, “Royal Thai Navy 1” swept to victory in IRC 2 Class again in 2011.
Wiwat Poonpat (left) skippered “Royal Thai Navy 1” to victory in the IRC 2 Class. (Photo/Guy Nowell)
Burapha University also had representation in IRC2 with a crew skippered by Satian Puranawit and a boat named after the University. He spoke of the Regatta’s prominence and appeal; “I’m so excited to join the Regatta for the first time, and so glad to bring students who are national athletes in the name of Burapha University to compete with sailors from around the world. This is a phenomenal event for the international sailing circle in Thailand. The Regatta improves the Thai athletes’ skill to a higher level because they compete with many experienced sailors, learning a lot with each race.
“It also attracts more Thai youths to sailing”, he continued. “The competition was well organised and had very good race management. We will definitely be competing again next year if we have support from the University and from other sponsors.”
Fellow Thai skipper Suwan Poopoksakul skippering “Lawana”, an X-512, battled in the highly-competitive and international Premier Class with entries from China, UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In fact, a majority of the vessels competing in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta had at least one Thai crew member. Overall, there were 74 Thai sailors who took part in the competition, making the Kingdom the fourth most highly represented nation in the whole Regatta.
It is fitting that Thai sailors should demonstrate such capable ability at the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta which sails under the auspices of His Majesty the King of Thailand, and which was celebrating its silver jubilee last year.
Koravic and Biranubongse Bhanubandh.
“Sailing is one of the sports His Majesty loves to take part in,” said Biranubongse Bhanubandh, a sailor who has sailed since 1987 and began on dinghies. “20 years ago, sailing was regarded as an upper-class and costly sport. So its prevalence was limited to specific groups of people and the development was delayed. But then there were supportive factors to raise the popularity of sailing, especially the duty reduction which was a considerable turning point for sailing development in Thailand. It made sailing more affordable and led to the development of Thai sailors’ skills, and now we have world champion Thai sailors.”
A majority of sailors competing in the International Dinghy Class racing series were Thai, thanks to strong efforts by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee who worked to encourage more Thai youngsters to take up the sport. Thailand can be particularly proud of its performance in the Optimist; Noppakao Poonpat from Sattahip was the 2011 World Champion, and the Thai team took the Team Optimist World Champion title the same year, and, not coincidentally, Noppakao is the niece of Wiwat Poonpat, skipper of the winning Royal Thai Navy 1 in Phuket. (Source Vivaldi PR)
“Burapha University” sails downwind at the 25th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. (Photo/Rolien)