There are no docks in Phuket, so each morning the crews racing in the King's Cup ride from a white sand beach to the mooring field in a longtail—remarkable little boats, indigenous to Thailand, and you probably don't have one in your yacht club.
Great events often have something special about them that are accidental, just part of the makeup, and for me, the longtails make the King's Cup. Along with tropical water and warm winds and all that yachting stuff, of course.
Arrive early—with starting lines set miles off the beach and kickoff at 0900 you'd better be early—and you find the longtails as they were "put to bed" the night before. The motors are covered, and the driveshafts/propellers are swung inboard and secured.
It's a tourist beach, no fooling . . .
Picture a motor mounted high, free to swivel and tilt, with a long drive shaft and a propeller on the end. If you want to go, you put the prop in the water and twist a throttle on the control arm. To turn, you push or pull. I'm assuming I don't have to explain why it's called a longtail . . .
This crew has loaded up in a boat that's ready to go . . .
For the crew of Peter Dyer's Madame Butterfly, the regular ride is with Captain Pe Pe (it probably sounds better in Thai), but occasionally someone else beats the good captain to our case. Whoever it may be, this thing we'd call body-English in the States translates to some pretty intense body-Thai. Let's let it play . . .
Every longtail has a bowman. They're a colorful cast of characters . . .
Day three of the King's Cup was the King's birthday. The fleet sailed past a Royal Thai Navy ship in salute . . .
Photo by Alberto Cassio
Madame Butterfly flew her white SEA spinnaker for the occasion, as you see below. With two days of racing still to come, King's Cup racing has gone so well for us so far that I'm not going to jinx it by talking about itKimball
Photo by Guy Nowell