Samui Wining & Dining
SAIL AWAY !
This year, the Samui Regatta celebrates its 13th anniversary.


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As one would expect, boating is an important part of life on an island – be it local fishing boats, sailing boats or luxury private charter vessels. But come the end of May each year, the island’s boating scene is elevated to a new level, with the buzzword being ‘regatta’.

        The 13th annual Samui Regatta is set to take place from 25th to 31st of May 2014, and is once again headquartered at Centara Grand Beach Resort in Chaweng. Since its birth in 2002, the Samui Regatta has grown to attract the best yachts in Asia, with over 40 boats and more than 500 sailors of 30 different nationalities participating each year.

        Also known as the ‘Tropical Island Regatta’, it is a highlight of the island’s social and sporting scene, and is famous around the world for providing world-class racing and putting on some of the best beachside regatta parties anywhere. Tickets to the 5-star Gala Dinner on the final night are highly sought after!

         The Regatta is organised by Regattas Asia in conjunction with the Samui Yacht Club Regatta, under the auspices of the Yacht Racing

Association of Thailand, the Municipality of Samui and the Sports Authority of Thailand. These organisations together have four key objectives: to increase tourists to the island, to increase awareness and participation in water sports in Asia, to establish Samui as a leading sailing destination, and to support youth education and sporting activities on the island. The event also generates an estimated 30 million baht worth of media coverage and over 18 million baht to the Samui economy annually.

          The first regatta in 2002, started with just 11 boats, mainly made up of beach catamarans, but the event soon gained a reputation for offering great hospitality and competitive sailing. The fleet has grown over the past 13 years into one of the most competitive in Asia, and is the final event of the prestigious ‘Asian Yachting Grand Prix’, a series of 5-star racing events held throughout Asia.

          Skippers and yachts are awarded points at all events attended based on their performance, and the ‘Skipper of the Year’ and ‘Yacht of the Year’ are awarded at the last night’s awards and gala dinner, as a grand finale to the Asian sailing season.

          Following a number of management and name changes, Regattas Asia took over the organisation of the event in 2012 and have brought the regatta back to its roots, bringing back the name ‘Samui Regatta’ and returning the social events to their rightful place, on the beach. Regattas Asia continues to develop this theme with the introduction of a fun stand-up paddleboard challenge for all the crews to join in as part of the daily ‘Regatta Tavern’ activities.

          Sailing can be a difficult sport for spectators. However, the organisers have done their best to involve them. Spectators can see the boats and sailors leaving the anchorage in front of Centara every morning, and returning every afternoon. The stand-up paddleboard challenge can also be watched from Chaweng Beach. Racing starts on Monday 26th May and takes place over five days, finishing on Saturday 31st May (note: there’s no racing on Thursday 29th May, as it’s a rest day).

          Spectators can also join in the victory celebrations, as the opening and daily prize-giving ceremonies are from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the beach in front of Centara, and are open to non-participants at 1,000 baht per person per night, which includes light finger food and drinks, all supplied by the organisers. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or from the regatta office. Being on the beach, dress code is casual.

          The closing party on Saturday 31st May is a more lavish affair, in the way of a sit-down gala dinner, located outside (weather permitting) on the lawn at Centara. Food is buffet-style and has a reputation for being a spectacular spread. Add to that free-flow drinks, and the tickets are a very reasonable 1,500 baht per person. Seats are limited and priority is given to sailors and their families, so it’s advisable for non-participants to contact the regatta office in advance to join the waiting list.

          Those that want to be close to the action and would like to follow the races more closely can buy tickets for a place on one of the spectator boats. Details and pricing will be made available nearer the start of the event, so keep an eye on the website for details.

          Another highlight of the regatta social scene is the opening party, hosted by Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar, across the road from Centara. This will take place on Sunday 25th May, before racing starts on the Monday, and will include the official opening, and accompanying speeches, and of course good food and drinks as well as some lively entertainment from the Brazilian dancing girls.

          What better way to escape the May heat, than to spend some time on the water with the breeze in your face – whether you’re taking part in the races (check the website for boats that are seeking crew), experiencing the excitement from a spectator boat, or just joining the celebrations at the ‘Regatta Tavern’ at the wind-down of each race day. A full events schedule can be found on the website, which is updated regularly, so don your sailing gear, get your sea legs ready. Let’s just hope the wind plays along!

          

 Rosanne Turner


 


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