The annual QBE Phang Nga Bay Regatta, which likes to bill itself 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.
Put simply, it takes four days sailing to do a loop around the stunningly beautiful bay in which the regatta is held. In past years most competitors had to spend an extra day to get their boats from Phuket to the starting line in Krabi. This year the extra day will become part of the event, allowing the fleet to take in the famous Phi Phi islands.
The new course will see the fleet begin and end in Phuket. The starting gun will be fired at Yacht Haven Marina on the morning of 22nd January, following registration and an opening party the night before. The first day on the water will end at Koh Yao Noi, the second at 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 most crews 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, the title sponsor, recently signed on for another three years, guaranteeing a properly funded event for the coming years. The main organisers are Phuket Magazine and the Ao Chalong Yacht Club.
The regatta runs during Chinese New Year, from 21st-25th January 2004. For further information see the event website at the address below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.