The annual QBE Phang Nga Bay Regatta - billed as 'Thailand's most fun sailing event' - is set to sail through some of the world's most spectacular waters again this Chinese New Year. With a difference.
This coming event has been expanded from a three-day event to four days competition on the water, to make the sailing format match the geography.
The new course will see the fleet begin and end in Phuket. The starting gun was fired at Yacht Haven Marina this morning, following registration and an opening party last night. The first day on the water will end at Koh Yao Noi, the second at Rai Ley Krabi, and the third at Phi Phi. Following tradition, beach parties will be held each evening. New contestants should be aware that accommodation is difficult if not impossible to find at these stops and in this regatta all on board usually sleep on their boats.
The tone of this regatta is distinctly more relaxed than Phuket's premier event, the King's Cup, with fun and the enjoyment of sailing through the amazing sea mountains of Phang Nga Bay the main focus. No other regatta in the region is sailed in such dramatic scenery.
In the previous six years this regatta has run its course, about 30 boats have registered each outing. That's just about enough, the regatta committee believes, and there has been talk of capping it should the number of boats go beyond forty. Apart from keeping it easily manageable, some of the anchorages, often in the shadow of vertical rock walls, might become difficult with too many boats.
QBE insurance is the title sponsor and the main organisers are Phuket Magazine and the Ao Chalong Yacht Club.