New faces at the King's Cup

Internationally renowned ISAF sailing official Bryan Willis, who has overseen five Olympic Games sailing events and has been involved in six America’s Cups as a rules advisor, chief umpire and who will be the Jury Chairman at next year’s America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, has agreed to play a leading role in this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

Willis has agreed to fill the vacuum left by regular Phuket King’s Cup official Mark Pryke – one of the world’s leading sailing judges – who will be on duty at the region’s biggest sporting event, the Asian Games.

This year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta runs from 2-9 December, and clashes with the Asian Games.

Willis will be backed up by a quality team including Howard Elliot and Simon James, who will handle all the action on the water.

Elliot, who has been appointed to various positions on the Race Committee at the King’s Cup for many years, will be Principal Race Officer this year and the International Jury will be led by Willis.

James also has a wealth of sailing experience as the Marketing Manager for Sunsail Asia, one of the world’s biggest yacht charter companies, and has played a leading role in the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta for many years as well as at many other regattas in Asia.

James also announced that the RORC will send Jenny Howells from the UK to process IRC certificates and sort out any measurement questions during this year’s King’s Cup.

'We look forward to welcoming these new faces to the King's Cup this year, one of the world’s biggest regattas,' said Santi Kanchanabandhu, President of the Phuket King’s Cup Committee. 'This year’s regatta, which is our 20th anniversary, is also shaping up as a record year in the number of entries.'

This year is special for both Thailand and the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta – the regatta is celebrating its 20th year and the regatta’s patron, His Majesty the King of Thailand, is also celebrating his 60th year on the throne, making him the world’s longest reigning monarch.Every year during the regatta a candle-lit ceremony is held on Kata Beach in honour of His Majesty the King of Thailand’s birthday, which falls on December 5.

Sailors from around the world take part in the annual King’s Cup, with yachts and crews from 18 countries making up the big fleet of 86 boats at last year’s regatta. Much of the interest last year centered on the first team from China to ever enter the event. They were accompanied by a huge media contingent - bigger than the sailing crew - some of which sent daily television feeds back to Beijing and Shanghai.

Now with a fledgling industry in China building superyachts for export and their first entry into the America’s Cup Challenge in Spain in 2007, the giant of the region is awakening to the burgeoning marine leisure industry, and with the Olympic Games fast approaching, becoming competitive at sailing is high on the priority list. More entries from China are expected for this year’s regatta.

For more information, contact Alan Parkhouse: parkhouse@nationgroup.com or phone the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta office on 0 7627 3380, or e-mail: info@kingscup.com, www.kingscup.com.