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  • His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand was a sportsman, exceptional sailor and talented craftsman who built numerous sailboats during his lifetime  

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer, who single handedly changed the face of Thai sailing.

It is by a twist of fate that HM the King came across sailing by accident when rowing offshore of Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin. The year was 1963 when he rowed pass Prince Bhisadej Rajani who was sailing along at a leisurely pace, just slow enough to be passed by a rowboat. This seemly innocuous event sparked HM the King’s keen interest in boats that would became a lifelong passion. He and the Prince would go on to design and build numerous boats together in a room at the Chitralada Palace in Bangkok, and testing their handmade vessels on the palace’s pond.

HM the King would go on to build 25 sailboats, a prodigious output by any measure, and even more amazing still is that all remain in working order. They are preserved with the full fleet (100 in total, many of them gifted) at three locations: Bangkok’s Chitralada Palace, Hua Hin’s Klai Kangwon Palace and at Tha Wasukri in Bangkok.

His first taste of competitive sailing came in 1965 with HSH Prince Bhisadej as crew. Together they sailed ‘Rajptain’, an Enterprise Class dinghy, competing against 35 other boats and winning a race from Pattaya to Koh Larn, beating none other than Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh in the process. Graceful in defeat, the Prince later sent HM the King a catamaran as a thank you present and symbol of friendship. It was Thailand’s first ever catamaran that HM the King good-humoredly named ‘Pla Duek’, or catfish in Thai, which was also a word play on the title Duke.

Not content to rest on his laurels, HM the King went on to create his own class of boats – ‘The Royal Mott Class’ – in 1966. These were designed within the parameters of the ‘International Moth Class’ – an established class that allowed for innovation within a set of design parameters. These included a maximum overall length of 11 feet and a maximum sail area of 75 square feet. Akin to a modern box rule, the ‘International Moth Class’ was a development class without restrictions on the width and shape of the boat, nor on the height of the mast or materials used for construction.

Between 1966 and 1967 HM the King designed and built several boats in the Mod and Super Mod classes (both single masted dinghies) and the Micro Mod: a single masted dinghy specifically designed for junior sailors. The Super Mod has arguably been the most popular of HM the King’s designs, which he would later go on to register at the Patent Office in Great Britain. It would be used with great success in international competition, including at the 13th SEA Games in 1985 that were held in Thailand.

All three vessels were compact by design to be suitable for Thai sailors. They were lightweight and therefore easy to transport and store, and required very low maintenance. While a reasonably fast boat they were also designed to be inexpensive to manufacture and build. HM the King gave royal permission to the Royal Thai Navy Sailing Club to produce two of the designs, Mod and Super Mod, with instructions to keep prices low and affordable enough to encourage promotion of sailing as a popular sport to the Thai public.

Following this success HM the King took an interest in the Danish-designed OK Dinghy and built four in Thailand, the first ‘Navaruek’ in 1965, was followed by ‘Vega’ which he later renamed ‘Vega 1″.

On 19 April, 1966, he sailed ‘Vega 1′ from Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, travelling 60 nautical miles to Sattahip, Chon Buri during an arduous 17-hour journey. A year later, the late monarch and his eldest daughter Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya (then aged 16), shared the gold medal at the fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (now the SEA Games). In recognition of his enormous contribution to the development of the sport, the International Olympic Committee presented the prestigious Insignia of the Olympic Order to HM the King in 1987. The same year he also graciously donated the King’s Cup Trophy and became the Royal Patron of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta since the inaugural event in 1987.

Kata Rocks has proudly sponsored yachts in the world-famous Phuket King’s Cup Regatta for many years, and is once again excited to be sponsoring three yachts during the 2016 event scheduled from 5 to 10 December this year. This year the King’s Cup is followed by the inaugural Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous from 10 to 12 December.

In honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Kata Rocks’ guests and staff are invited to express their condolences and write notes in tribute to him in a bound volume that will remain in place for the entire official one-year morning period. In remembrance of HM the King and his contribution to sailing in Thailand, Kata Rocks has also produced a short video available for viewing here. All of us at Kata Rocks are deeply saddened by the passing of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his legacy lives on forever in our hearts.

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