Greetings from Pattaya, Thailand. Two important things happen in the month of December. First, aspiring IJSBA competitors put all sorts of race gear on their [Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, nondescript secular winter celebration] wish list. Second, the annual King’s Cup brings racers from all over the planet for what is perhaps the most fun and exciting race of the year.
For those who are new to the sport of PWC Racing, King’s Cup is an international world cup race held each year in Thailand. The King of Thailand donates these really beautiful trophies to the event (hence the name) and the local hosts of the Chon Buri province and the city of Pattaya roll out the red carpet to invite competitors to dice it out in one of the most beautiful beachfront settings in the world. Throw in a huge payout and an extraordinarily well managed event and you see why this race is so amazing.
The Thai Jet Sports Boating Association spends each year raising the bar for anyone that wants to have bragging rights for promoting a world-class competition. Each year’s event starts with an opening ceremony which honors the King of Thailand with military guards delivering the trophies. After the trophies, we have a few administrators say a couple of words before the crowd is treated so some traditional Thai entertainment.
This year it was a war drum performance and this very cool dance where numerous handfuls of yellow flower petals were removed from an umbrella and showered on the stage. To the uninformed onlooker, it looked like a bridal ceremony dance (I searched the internet for 10 minutes trying to find out more about it and came up with nothing, so I went with bridal ceremony dance as opposed to “the dance of creating extra work for the stage cleaning crew”) and was quite beautiful to watch.
The racers, and their entourage, were also treated to a delicious buffet of traditional Thai food. This is the program each year and it is always excellent. Participants are very fortunate to receive this type of treatment and enough cannot be said to praise TJSBA and the Thai hosts for the wonderful hospitality.
The layout at the beach is also marked with the signs of TJSBA’s diligence on hosting an excellent event. Pits and tents are provided for all competitors. There is something about the way everything comes together at King’s Cup that provides for one of the most friendly environments of all competition anywhere in the world. Everyone is more friendly here and the competition takes on a flavor unseen at any race I have ever been to and all this is in the face of one of the largest cash payouts anywhere. Whatever the reason, this event is truly awesome and if you haven’t been you need to come at least once.
Today, Friday December 7, was the first day of actual competition. Novices and Experts started their assault on the track. Vendors started to open and unveiled some products that had people talking. By now, most of the usual crew is here and getting acquainted. Aside from the racing, this is always a great venue for some casual negotiating and discussions on things that can happen the following year. This report contains the results from the first day and a few pictures from the beach and last night’s opening ceremonies. More will come tomorrow.