Thailand has a habit of interrupting round-the-world trips and Captain Tim MacMahon was no exception – despite planning to spend a few more years scouring the seas in his ocean-going yacht.
What stopped him was the lifestyle and a great business opportunity. While Thailand has some of the world’s finest yachting conditions, it still has only 2,000 sails moored at its marinas.
‘There are more than that, just in San Diego,’ he says.
Captain Tim is now spurring Thailand’s yachting industry at a sailing school in Phuket, where he runs corporate training as well as teaching individuals. He sees great potential in the market given how yachting imagery has conquered the ad industry.
‘Steering wheels now appear in the background in so many advertisements here,’ he says.
In Pattaya, where the Ocean Marina already hosts similar charter and training outfits, a new marina development is set to add ‘nautical’ to the seaside resort’s ‘naughty but nice’ image.
‘It’s all part of the Pattaya’s shift to attract more upscale visitors,’ says Terry Collins of The Vineyard, a bespoke pool-villa development on the town’s outskirts.
In fact, the discovery of Thailand’s yachting potential is overdue. Thailand’s revered King is a passionate yachtsman, who has even built some of the boats he has raced in.
His influence on the sport in Thailand is reflected in the annual King’s Cup Regatta, held last month in Phuket. A survey found that 56% of competitors see it as their favourite regatta in Asia, while 71% said Thailand is the best sailing venue in Asia due to its ideal geography and weather and its beautiful scenery.
The spectacular island-dotted Phang Nga Bay in Phuket is probably the pinnacle of all yachting destinations.
‘The east coast of Phuket has a great appeal for sailing enthusiasts,’ says Cyrille Hareux of Company Vauban real estate.
‘Upscale developments like Baan Yamu on that side of the island are perfect for yachting types because of the choice of marinas.’
For now, yachties in Thailand can also enjoy a rare luxury for their sport – an abundance of places to tie up their vessel.
‘In the Mediterranean, people will even insist on buying a mooring space when they buy a yacht,’ says Kev Scott, who runs training courses from Pattaya’s Ocean Marina.
‘It is amazing to be somewhere with such excellent conditions where you don’t have to hunt for somewhere to keep your yacht.’