March 4th-8th Regatta The Bay Regatta (Formerly Phang Nga Bay Regatta). The region’s roaming and sleep aboard regatta. Four days of fub sailing through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The event showcases the beauty of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi provinces.Over 50 boats are expected to compete with both boats and crew coming from Phuket and abroad. www.bayregatta.com
The Bay Regatta was founded by a photographer (John Everingham) and friends (Chris Schaefer and Andy Stephens). Everingham, a long-time Phuket King’s Cup Regatta committee member, was motivated in part by frustration at the annual struggle over setting that regatta’s courses. On the one hand, he wanted to shoot the fleet of sails contrasted against the dramatic scenery. The hard-core sailors, on the other hand, wanted their boats as far away from land as possible to avoid fickle winds.
The ACYC, and its volunteer board, however, felt it could no longer run the Bay Regatta properly, so this year it handed over stewardship to “Mr Regatta” himself Simon James of Regattas Asia. Simon, who aside from being the PRO of the Regatta, has been one of its principle organizers along with his partner Kae Wattana, knows exactly what he’s getting into and if he and Kae run the event the same way he does the famed Samui Regatta, the Bay Regatta will have a very bright future indeed.
In the deep channels between the spectacular, vertical rock walls, the Bay Regatta’s philosophy of fun-amidst-beauty shone through for all to see. The hallmark of this event is a casual, fun-filled atmosphere. Many friends join together to sail the four-day event and while the sailing is serious for many racing class yachts, a large number of cruisers join for the experience of sailing through some of the world’s most amazing maritime scenery.
Sailing scribe Kate Hubert has described the regatta thus: “The PNBR has always attracted cruising yachties – those who have abandoned the rat race and traded the bricks-and-mortar for a life afloat. So in addition to the toned bodies of the young race crews, there were also many retirees in the race. The tortoises, who carry their homes with them, may not look as shiny as the racing hares, but sometimes they finish ahead of the presumed front-runners.“
The oracle of Southeast Asian sailing Captain Marty once noted this regatta’s distinction, “Why does this regatta have a reputation for being the ‘Fun Regatta’ compared to the usual ‘gung ho’ racing events that we have grown accustomed to? Well you only have to take a look around the moored yachts. There are families with children bonding together, groups of old friends, drinking buddies reacquainting themselves, familiar racing crews and foreign charter guests sharing the experience with some old-fashioned camaraderie. If you are going to spend so much money on a boat it’s good to see the owners fully utilize the vessel for what it is designed to be used for.
“Instead of racing for a couple hours and going home, be prepared to live aboard for four days and use the galley, toilet and inbuilt luxury interior for what it’s worth. At the same time, the crew can develop some seamanship qualities and other boat handling skills not found on the race course. Make no mistake though, whether it’s a racing or cruising boat, monohull or multihull the racing element is alive and well. When the starting signal sounds it is sheet on and go for it. After the racing, it’s off to the overnight anchorage area and prepare for another prize-giving party at some of the finest resorts on offer in Thailand. Then get ready to do it all again the next day. To get through it all, calls for an exercise in endurance.”
Congratulations to Simon James and Kae Wattana and their hard-working and cheerful team for keeping the tradition of the Fun Regatta alive and well. And as usual Andy Dowden did a great job as MC on the awards’ presentation nights.
The regatta is more famous for the spectacular settings of its courses and parties than the sense of sailing triumph, and continues to evolve while maintaining its original brief – to bring the joys of sailing right into the midst of the spectacular environments that surround Phuket.
It appeals to the serious, the not-so-serious and the not-at-all-serious “racing” sailors, combining spectacular natural scenery with lively parties and some sail boat racing. The region’s yachting community visits three of Thailand’s most scenic provinces in four days of racing and five days of partying.