Greetings From Pattaya, Thailand. We just made it through the second day of competitions at the 2012 King's Cup. There are lots of fun and exciting things to tell you about.
The host hotel, The Furama, is a good half mile from the race site. Many of the competitors have their watercraft stored on the hotel premises which are launched just adjacent to the storage areas. Those of us still jet-lagged have the most glorious wakeup call by the deep sound of Open Class four stroke runabouts sprinting from the hotel towards the pits. One such similar sound was a highly juiced two stroke whine which was immediately interrupted by the painful sound of silence that only comes from a piston telling you that it wasn't prepared for this long of an open throttle run. We hope whoever it was got it fixed.
The day started off with an unusual breeze that was stronger than remembered from any recent King's Cup. It died down some, but was present for most of the day. Warm and sunny, as always in Pattaya, there was also a definite cloud cover that hovered off shore. Several tuners commented on the increased humidity. Tuners and mechanics were noticeably wrenching more often this year. Whether this was due to weather or wear and tear from further pushing the performance levels of the watercraft is not known as of yet.
The activity and density of King's Cup has also noticeably changed. The exhibition experience has increased drastically. More purveyors of all things watercraft are under some tents behind the grandstands or in a mega tent which is just off to the side. Seabreacher, the cool mechanical shark submarine we saw at World Finals, was on site and now is equipped with a periscope looking apparatus. We were treated to a really cool Flyboard show during the lunch break. A vendor selling barbecues and ice chests was also selling new stand up Ski. Cannon was on hand offering professional photography services for racers. Casio, ETS, and Jettribe vendors all had a stake in the exhibition area as well. Non-racing activity is not complete without a bikini contest which, of course, was well attended.
Runabout racing is the crowd favorite at this event. We can debate Ski vs. Runabout some other time. Speed and noise is what is bringing in the crowds at Pattaya. World Champion Sea-Doo rider, James Bushell is the hottest name in runabout racing these days and didn't back down here at the King's Cup. He went two for two in his first day of competition. However, it was close competition with Jared Moore consistently challenging â€“ each of them trading a second place and a third in the first two heats. Yamaha's Abdullah Al Fadhel is taking notes from the Bushell playbook with wins in Limited and Pro-Am Open. Novice Runabout Stock had 26 entries- this is a story by itself. Yousef Abdulrazzaq took a nasty spill and went off for medical examination but was back on the course shortly thereafter. Aero Aswar showed consistent strong riding. Toshi Ohara is beginning his career as a Pro Runabout rider. Chaowalit Kuajaroon is still in contention. Paul Del Roasario is making the rest of them work for it. Exciting things are happening here.
Crowds and the purists of the sport may be at odds on the stars of the show. Either camp comes up a winner. Steven Dauliach had every person in the pits captivated with his back-to-back wins- not that he didn't have spectators from the grandstands watching, too. Chris MacClugage charged very hard and earned to seconds. Rick Sherker, who is fighting an illness, earned one third place. Omar Al Rasheed and Almur Bin Huraiz are putting on UAE challenge of their own. Yuki Kurahashi is probably the most talked about person in the Ski categories. She is totally dominating the Women's Ski class and is make power plays against the men. Kevin Reiterer experienced some hull problems but is still in the competitive spirit.
More story and results tomorrow.