Another perfect morning on Chaweng Beach, Samui where the 2005 Koh Samui fleet has been assembling over the last few days. Looking out over the shimmering sea on the Gulf of Thailand arriving sailors can see moored yachts just outside the breakers in front of the spectacular Central Samui Beach Resort.
The 2004 defending Sam CHAN'S Ffree Fire, Frank PONG'S Reichel Pugh 75, Jelik, the Pacific 50 Yo!, Troy YAW'S Ulumulu, (this yacht was Ray ROBERT'S ABN Amro and still with the same yellow topsides, but now with a Sarawak star on her bow) are all enjoying the sunshine and sea breezes.
Frank PONG and his Jelik team enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Central Samui Beach Resort this morning, before heading back to the yacht to prepare for the competitive sailing ahead.
He was all smiles. 'The island of Samui has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There couldn't be a better place for a regatta.
The event offers a great mix of distance and cans racing, and the organisation is second to none. The Jelik crew are really looking forward to this week.'
Koh Samui is a laid-back tropical island paradise and the regatta has always had a relaxed, party atmosphere but behind the scenes there is a high tech heart.
Around the world regatta communications always present a challenge, but at this regatta, there is an impressive level of high technology evident.
One of the four co-sponsors of this event is CAT Telecom, who provide the Internet back-bone in Thailand, and in addition to their event sponsorship they have provided a technology showcase that would be the envy of many other sailing events around the world.
Previously the government agency Communications Authority of Thailand, CAT Telecom Public Company Ltd, owns Thailand's international telecommunications infrastructure including its international gateways, satellite and submarine cable networks connections. Until recent times, CAT was the sole provider of international telephony, Internet and CDMA mobile telephony.
CAT Telecom have set up two high speed Wi-Fi networks, one at the Regatta office and Media Centre and another beachside overlooking Chaweng Beach. All through the resort today, sailors and regatta officials are sitting under beach umbrella's with suitable beverage and laptops.
Even out on the anchored fleet, navigators report excellent reception as they look at the weather forecasts.
There is a high speed ADSL network, with seven workstations online and open international and domestic phone lines and faxes complete the facilities.
As part of their generous sponsorship, special Koh Samui 2005 CAT Telecom Thaicards that provide free international and domestic phone calls from public phones are being provided for the competitors. www.cattelecom.com
It's certainly shaping up as a great regatta with strong competition in all the classes.
The Grand Prix Racing division title will be hard fought. While Toby CONNELL'S Yo! Team are tilting at the overall Asian Yachting circuit Yacht title (being the only yacht, who can still take the title from Neil PRYDE and his former Hi-Fidelity) there are reputations at stake amongst crews and owners who are looking forward to some tight racing.
The owner of Ffree Fire, Sam CHAN summed up the situation earlier in the week. 'Ffree Fire is quite an old lady now, but our recent track record shows that she has great pace and a great and committed crew.
Koh Samui is one of the very best regattas in the calendar and I am sure the 2005 event will be no exception.'
Today Regatta Registration commences at the Central Samui Beach Resort.
Tonight there is a pre-regatta part at Coco Blues Bar, one of the island's premier party locations, for skippers and their crews and tomorrow evening the Opening Party will be at the Central Samui Beach Resort after the Skippers briefing.
Racing commences at 10:30am Monday and concludes on Saturday with a Presentation Dinner. This year the regatta committee has included a Lay Day on Thursday so that everyone can enjoy the many activities, spectacular scenery and beaches on the island.
Koh Samui is Thailand's third largest island, measuring 247 square kilometres. During the last decade, the island has become one of South East Asia's top five most visited tourist destinations.
The neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the breathtaking National Marine Park, offer visitors a wide range of activities such as sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling and adventure excursions.
Major Sponsors for 2005 Koh Samui Regatta are CAT Telecom, Central Samui Beach Resort, Bank of Ayudhya and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.