Sailing enthusiasts know all about the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championships. In fact, most of the top crews and yachts in the region compete in the AYGP series, which now forms the backbone of Asia’s sailing calendar. Events are added or replaced each year, the overall aim being to determine the top skipper and top racing yacht for the season in Asian waters. Points are awarded in three racing classes over 8 or 9 main regattas and the crews become more skilled and experienced every season. Talented skippers such as Frank Pong, Neil Pryde and Ray Roberts hand-pick their crew members from around the globe and make continuous, expensive upgrades to their yachts, experimenting with tactics and applying new technologies as they look for ways to edge out the competition. Widespread media coverage guarantees every regatta in the Asian series draws a good crowd of sponsors and spectators and the after race parties have become legendary. Despite plenty of revelry, competition remains fierce.
Asia’s Top Sailing Events:
China Coast Regatta
Kicking off the series in October, the China Coast Regatta starts from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and began in 1993 as a replacement for the China Coast Cup. The regatta has regional appeal and is designed for racing yachts that want to make the most of Hong Kong’s best sailing weather. Although the regatta generally enjoys consistent winds in the 15 20 knots range with blue skies and friendly waters, some years have brought 25 knot winds, making for a thrilling weekend that seriously challenges both the crews and their boats.The event attracts 30 to 40 boats, with Asian crews competing alongside entries from Australia and New Zealand.
The Hong Kong to Vietnam Race
This event always attracts plenty of entires not only for its length (656 nautical miles from Hong Kong to Nha Trang) but also for the offshore nature of the course, which means fast, exciting sailing. Teams compete for the top spot on the podium, while also chasing the race record of 42 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds, set by Australian, Grant Wharington in 2004 with his boat Skandia Wild Thing.
The Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta
Established in 1990, Malaysias oldest keelboat sailing regatta is now one of the regions top events. Initially conceived as an offshore race up Malaysia’s western coast, the regatta has evolved into more of a mini-series. Three passage races and four harbour races combine to make this one of the hardest fought competitions on the Asian Calendar. RMSIR opens in Port Klang with an extravagant welcome party during which the regatta patron, HRH Sultan of Selangor presents plaques and welcomes the participants. The final day features races within Bass Harbour followed by the final gala prize giving dinner at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club.
Phuket Kings Cup Regatta
The annual Phuket Kings Cup Regatta began in 1987 to honour HIs Majesty King Bhumiphols 60th birthday. Over the last 22 years, increasing numbers of sailors and boats from around the globe have taken to the waters of the Andaman Sea. This has made the King’s Cup the largest gathering of keel boats, multi-hulls and traditional sailing craft annually in South East Asia. Most of the yachts return to compete every year, with regular entries from Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Australia lining up against newer crews such as the China team, which only joined the competition in 2008.
Singapore Straits Regatta
Changi Yacht Club was the chosen host for the 2009 Singapore Straits Regatta, which featured a traditional series format of windward /leeward and passage races both in Singaporean and Indonesian waters. Holding a major regatta in Singapore is a challenge in itself. Sailing around one of the world’s busiest ports means avoiding the huge number of ships anchored off the coast, not to mention dodging the shipping lanes that ensure constant movement of craft in and out of the city. Strict Port Authority regulations apply, but with careful planning and efficient organisation this has become one of the must-sail regattas on the Asian Grand Prix Sailing circuit.
Top of The Gulf Regatta
This is the penultimate race on the Asian series, a combined event that features everything from smaller optimist craft to multi-hulls, cruisers and the ocean going IRC 1 yachts. Top of the Gulf is a real cross section of the sport and unique amongst the Asian regattas for its size and diversity. Younger sailors join the more experienced adults at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya for a week of top class racing combined with the very best in Thai hospitality. Over 400 competitors on 200 boats compete in the event, including international teams from around the region, as well as plenty of local entries hoping to make a mark in their home waters.
Koh Samui Regatta
Finishing the season in style, the Koh Samui regatta features a mix of passage and buoy racing, with post race parties held almost every night at some of the island’s top resorts. Final season placings for the racing class yachts are often decided here, which makes for an exciting week of competition and also guarantees a busy protest room as teams make their final bid for the coveted Perpetual AY Cup. The Waterford Crystal trophy is traditionally filled with champagne and presented at a spectacular gala dinner on the lawns of the Centara Grand Beach Resort.