Samui Wining & Dining
THE LAST LEG
Bigger and better each time around – a look at this year’s Samui Regatta!

Bigger and better each time around – a look at this year’s Samui Regatta!Samui is only little. There are not that many people here. It’s been described as sleepy – a place to come to get away from the mad dash and bustle of life. World events are things that happen elsewhere; we’ll give them a look on TV now and then. And our little island doesn’t see truckloads of sport – apart from a quiet spot of fishing, maybe! And so it comes as a shock that we’re on the map. The international sporting calendar. We’re all set up for one of the biggest events in the world – because we’re an island. And it’s the waters all around us that draw people in. Yes, once again, this month of May, it’s time for the annual Samui Regatta.

          

To those not in the know, some background is needed. This isn’t just a bunch of islanders sculling about with boats, bunting and booze for a week. This is one event, the final one in fact, in an international series of races which have been going on for the best part of a year, as part of the 12 stages of the Asian Yachting Grand Prix (AYGP) – a series of competitions and races that take place in the seas between Hong Kong and Singapore. It starts every June with Phuket Race Week. And then over the next ten months (with a break for the monsoon season) moves on to Penang and Langkawi (Malaysia), The Philippines, Vietnam, back to Phuket again (for The King’s Cup) then Singapore and, finally, Samui.

          

This is interesting. Both Hong Kong and Singapore have reputations as being millionaire’s playgrounds. Ocean leisure and sport plays a big part in this, with exclusive marinas in place to cater for all that sea-going traffic. Phuket has three fully-equipped marinas. But, for lots of different reasons, Koh Samui hasn’t got even one. Not even one solitary little marina. But, despite this fact, any time now there are going to be in excess of 100 different sailing boats of all shapes and sizes appearing almost overnight in Chaweng Bay. A good number of these will have sailed here directly. Some of the top competitors’ vessels will even have been transported here by ship; one of the freight transporters which are specially designed for this purpose.Page134-4 (In some instances it’s actually more cost-effective to do this and have the crew fly in separately). But, one way or another, over the course of just a few days, the area in and around the host resort and base of Centara Grand Beach Resort will expand to the tune of around 500 new visitors – even more this year if things continue to expand as they have done in the past.

We might be only small and sleepy, but Samui’s got a couple of big things in its favour. First is the location: we’re just about slap bang in the middle of the AYGP area, making it an ideal spot for the last race, after which everyone heads off back home again. And the other winning point is that Samui’s got some of the best hospitality anywhere. Some of the best resorts, chefs, restaurants and cuisine in the world. First-class nightlife and clubs. Top shops and facilities. And no monsoons to mess everything up! Thai friendship and care is something to be looked forward to, and the quality of our accommodation and the associated wining and dining is up there with the best – making us a compelling venue for all involved.

“Samui is a great favourite,” noted Simon James, the regatta’s Race Director and founder of ‘Regattas Asia’, the event organisers that manage Asia’s leading regattas. “Every year – and this is now the 15th annual event to be held on Samui – more and more sailing enthusiasts have been coming here for a holiday break timed to coincide with the Samui final, even though they’re not actually competing. This is a huge boost for the island economy, and not just short-term for the period of the regatta.Bigger and better each time around – a look at this year’s Samui Regatta! People love Samui. It’s not just a nice place to be, it’s easy to get to – Bangkok Airways has direct flights from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Phuket, and Firefly Airlines fly direct to Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It only takes a couple of hours to get here from just about anywhere in the region. And one of the direct results of this is that a huge number of people who have been introduced to Samui in this way have fallen in love with the place, and now regularly take holidays here. Plus I must personally know of a couple of dozen who have now brought property here, too.”

          

Most of the racing itself actually takes place a little way offshore and isn’t easy to see, unless you know the routes and where to be. If you’re keen to get out in amongst it all, then you can book a place on one of the spectator boats which are readily available. Other than that, it’s worth knowing that the competitors come in close to the land at the start and finish points, off the coast of Chaweng and Lamai. And so the high viewpoints on the rocky road between Chaweng and Lamai are all a good bet. Look out for the action between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm each day, starting on Monday 23rd May.

          

Registration for the race takes place the day before this, and you’ll start to notice Chaweng Bay, in the area off the coast of Centara Grand, starting to fill up with boats for several days in advance. The format is for six straight days of racing, although excitement builds considerably as the days wear on. The way that the overall points and rankings work is that competitors are graded on their six best performances of the overall tournament. And because of the high cost of it all, not every vessel takes part in all 12 of the season’s events. This means that the overall winner often doesn’t emerge until the final day, giving rise to some knuckle-biting final races.

          

The full program for the week can be found on the website below, and contains all the information about the classes and competitors, together with reports and race leaders of earlier events in this year’s AYGP season.

          

Rob De Wet

 

 


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