The challenging and tempestuous weather conditions experienced this week by the organisers and competitors of the 17th Koh Samui Regatta threatened to put a damper on the open air gala dinner held, as always, in the sumptuous grounds of the Centara Grand on Chaweng beach. Fortunately for all concerned the rain Gods held their wrath in check as more than five hundred invited guests took their places on the ocean facing lawn to enjoy this magnificent event.
The extensive, meticulously prepared buffet dinner offered guests an astounding array of choices of fine cuisine and the jovial and attentive staff at the free flow bars were kept on their toes as successes and commiserations were toasted with equal gusto by the colourful characters that show this yachting fraternity has a real sense of family.
The hugely awaited award presentation ceremony was interspersed by some exciting video footage of highlights from the competition and astonishing exploits of the sailing crews doing battle on the azure waters around the island. The trophies were presented by two highly esteemed gentlemen, the assistant governer of Surat Thani province and the Admiral of the Thailand yachting association, who had graciously donated their time in support of this year’s event and whose presence was greatly appreciated. This year’s Regatta has once again been a resounding success in what is Koh Samui’s longest running sporting event. Twenty one different countries were represented in this week long event, with nineteen yachts participating and this year it was particularly inspiring to have thirty eight youth sailors taking part in the competition, bringing to the Regatta a youthful exuberance to the proceedings.
It is perhaps an unfortunate paradox that no Samui crews were involved in the Regatta and there was only one yacht chartered from the island crewed by a group of adventurous Austalians. The principal reason for this absence it appears, is that the majority of charter yachts based on Koh Samui have their hands tied by very demanding Chinese tour operators who insist that the vessels remain available at all times, often just on three hours notice, for their own clients regardless or not if they have any bookings. The penalty for participating in the Regatta for Samui crews and charter businesses it seems could mean a blacklisting from the tour operator for any future Chinese bookings. Whilst it is understood that the world of yacht chartering is a hazardous business, surely there are ways around this prohibitive stalemate for what is essentially only a week long event. Perhaps even the tour operators could be persuaded to get involved in sponsorship to heighten their profile amongst their own clientele who would no doubt be thrilled to witness, and maybe even participate in, this annual spectacle allowing once more the highly competitive Samui based crews to show off their talents and be permitted, without concessions, to compete on home surf.
Nevertheless, the Regatta continues to grow in popularity and coverage of the event is enjoyed worldwide thanks to the slick and professional attributes of both Regatta organiser Simon James, media management executive Duncan Worthington and their highly motivated team of enthusiastic support staff. Regardless of the future of any Samui based involvement one thing is certain, the Koh Samui Regatta will return to our shores this time next year for its eighteenth consecutive year. As a participating supporter the ‘Samui Times’ wishes all concerned “Bon Vent” and we look very much forward to seeing you all again in 2019.
Neil CretneyStay updated with Samui Times by following us on Facebook.
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