by Louay Habib
Nestling in the Gulf of Thailand is one of the most beautiful islands on the planet and yes, they do have a regatta which is run under IRC and it is becoming very popular. The first Koh Samui Regatta was in 2001 with only 11 boats, but the event has grown and this year 30 boats raced in the beautiful waters around Samui, on a mixture of courses including windward leeward and a round the island race.
Many of the yachts travel from overseas including Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. IRC is the chosen racing rule for the nearly all of the regattas in the region, meaning that foreign boats are able to come to Koh Samui Regatta without having to adapt the boats to a different handicap system. Perhaps that is why the regatta has continued to grow and cemented its importance to the Asian yachting scene, by being the last regatta in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix series.
This year participating yachts included many high performance racing boats, such as the CYCA Commodore Matt Allen's Ichi Ban and Frank Pong's Hong Kong based Boracay. But there is a huge range of yachts attracted to Samui, including charter boats and multi-hulls. The competitors enjoyed some excellent racing, in a variety of wind strengths in one of the most picturesque places in the world.
"It was my first time in Koh Samui Regatta but I had wanted to do it for some time," commented John Brinkers, a highly respected sail maker with North Sails UK. "The atmosphere at the regatta is very friendly; it is run out of a small resort called Trade Winds and it reminds me of how the King's Cup used to be in its infancy; it has got a home-made feel to it."
The Koh Samui Regatta is run by volunteers out of a beach bar with a fantastic view of the Gulf. All the competitors gather on the beach for breakfast and also a few beers after racing, and there are some excellent parties organized in the evenings. There is no marina as such but all the boats are anchored in one area, and if you don't have a dinghy there are plenty of ‘long tails' (local work boats) to get you ashore.
The 2009 regatta was sponsored by Sawadee.com, and for the record Neil Pryde's Welbourne 52 HI-FI , won the overall Racing Class, and made it a week to remember by also taking the 2008-09 ‘Asian Yachting Champion Skipper and Yacht of the Year' award back to Hong Kong.
For full information visit: http://www.samuiregatta.com/