The Bay Regatta is the first of three sailing regattas in the Phuket region this year, and is a regular fixture on the local sailing calendar – this year is the 16th time it has been held.
In 2012, more than 40 yachts took part in the four-day race around the bay, including nine vessels in the Cruising A Class and 13 in the Multihull class.
The Ao Chalong Yacht Club, which hosts the regatta, this week issued its official Notice of Race and a provisional course book that describes more than 100 nautical miles of yacht racing courses around the islands of Phang-Nga Bay, spread over three days of racing.
The registration and opening party this year will be held on January 31st at the Ao Po Grand Marina on the northeast point of Phuket.
On February 1, the first race day, the fleet will race a 17-mile leg to the Paradise Beach Resort at the northern tip of Koh Yao Noi.
After the second day of racing in the bay, the yachts will moor at Koh Yao Noi’s Villalaguna resort, and on the third day they sail to to Krabi. On the final day, February 3, the fleet heads back more than 30 miles to Ao Chalong Yacht Club – typically with the fleet running ahead of the westerly winds, spinnakers aloft – for the final line honours and the prize-giving party.
Known for many years as the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, the rebranded Bay Regatta typically attracts between 40 to 50 racing yachts each year.
Part of the special appeal of the regatta is that the races take the racing fleet to a new anchorage each night, where the award parties are held.
Because the most serious racing yachts have no accommodation onboard, to save on weight, the racing crews often sleep out under blankets on the deck. Although the racers often trounce the slower boats during the day, the heavier boats enjoy more comfortable berths at night.
The regatta is locally famous as “the party that sails around” – and it usually includes at least one night with boats rafted together as a floating platform for celebrations.