The King’s Cup, a gala affair

Last year I learned two lessons, I did not want to be on a race crew for 5 days and I wanted to be part of this historic event. This year I volunteered to be on the race committee and was put on the “on the water team” on a boat tasked with setting marks, recording times and retrieving the marks. As with all volunteer groups tis a bit disorganized by appearance but the huge task of setting the courses soon became more science than black magic.

Off to a precarious start, the first day the wind switched to onshore, dreaded in this anchorage and the rains came. Several boats wound up dragging anchor and on the beach. It rained buckets and this is coming from a Seattleite! I had to ride my motorbike to the first day, an hour ride at best, the rain was so tremendous that six inches of water came down the windy hill I was going up, water came over the foot boards on the trusty Honda but she kept going over the top of the pass. I was soaked when I arrived only to find they cancelled the first day which is only a practice race anyway. Soon the sun came out and that left me with one option, lay by the pool and relax.

They treat the volunteers well; we get accommodations, copious dining and admission to the gala parties each night. The rooms are shared and I met my roommate, a seasoned veteran but strangely the only one alone in a room. I soon found out why, and left the free room for a local guest house. Everyone seemed to get a hoot out of my experience; I think they all had bets on how long I would last, hahaha.

The race takes place off Kata Beach and the Kata Beach Resort, a plush and expansive beach front resort. The long white sandy beach is ideal for swimming and surfing, not dinghy launching. We had to ride in traditional Thai “long tail” boats out to the committee boat, a challenge but easily handled by the seasoned Thai boatmen.

We set out of the bay and received our first instructions for setting the marks. The trick is to set the two windward marks for the two courses as dead upwind as possible, all in a changing breeze. We were given a bearing and distance and with the hand held GPS set the first mark for the two groups of classes we handled. We then set up at the mark and recorded the times around it just in case no one made the finish line the race would be determined at the mark. This procedure was nonessential on this course but needed later.

the official start boat, a gallant shooner

setting the mark

Once ashore we readied for the party. The King does know how to throw a party! Top notch bands, exotically costumed dancers, fireworks, and unlimited gourmet food and drink.

Day two found better weather, sunshine, and a good stiff offshore breeze, ideal. We were given the course, the long one that winds around some picturesque islands, a grand day for racing. We set the mark and anchored the Thai fishing boat in a bumpy sea. We got to watch the entire fleet of 68 yachts go by. This ranged from sleek modern racing sleds, zipping fast multi hulls, charter boats, family cruisers and old classics. One feature of this race is the bareboat charter class filled with people from all around the world on Sunsail charter boats, what a great idea! 

the fastest

the classic

As the boats rounded the mark and set spinnakers for the downwind leg we could hear the crews screaming at each other in a variety of languages. This is when I remembered why I do not like racing. Remarkably, the volume of yelling was in direct relationship to the number of twists the knotted spinnakers produced, hahaha.

As I had scheduled some hard to get workers on Wednesday and Thursday is the lay day, I have come back to Furthur and will return on Friday to finish the rally and will post a 2nd half report.