IJSBA recaps the King’s Cup from Pattaya, Thailand. The 2015 Thai Airways Kings Cup is in the books. This was a very special event in that this was the 20th consecutive Kings Cup. Twenty years is a long time to do anything much less something that shows no sign of slowing down. Like a fine wine that continues to improve over time, or an overused cliché used by writers, this event is something you can count on to be around for a long future.
This year’s installment of the King’s Cup added many new amenities such as a massive LED screen, live tracking of competitor’s placement and popular musical acts during halftime joined the well enjoyed staples such as the FHM girls next door show. Many nations were represented, some light rain didn’t spoil any racing, and a member of the Royal Family closed the event. Here are some news highlights from the show. For more information, and complete results, please visit jetski-worldcup.com/.
Chaowalit Kuajaroon made Flamingo Racing proud and helped make racing Sparks officially a very cool thing to do. He didn’t do it alone, James Bushell came armed with a turbocharged Spark to make sure Kuajaroon worked for it. Bushell even won Moto 3, the only heat Chaowalit did not win, and ranking third, overall, on the podium after consistent finishes by Arttapol Khunsa. A respectable full line of 16 rounded out the field and started a new life for the 800cc Runabout Class. The amount of discussions, and inquiries, into this class going forward has been very well received and we expect significant growth in performance oriented Sparks as well as the Rec Lites Class.
James Bushell continued his global dominance of Runabout Racing in the Pro Runabout GP class. Intending to repeat his win from 2014 and as intent on reminding the world that the failure to bring home a first place from this year’s Lake Havasu City was a simple statistical mishap in his career, Bushell put on a serious display of horsepower control and PWC management. There is no denying that Gyorgy Kasza’s watercraft was the fastest thing on the South China Sea after his Moto 1 win, but mechanical problems plagued much of his performance and he was unable to demonstrate the control he had at World Finals and the European Championship in Nysa this year. A lot of attention is being cast upon Mohammed Burbaye who won moto three of Runabout GP and third second overall. Burbaye comes off of winning this class at World Finals and has strongly been asserting himself as one of the dominant Runabout racers in the sport. Two wins and two seconds strongly cemented Bushell’s overall first place. A steady racing Phoemphon Teerapatpanich took third on the podium.
Sport GP has its home in Thailand. The Thai contingency is responsible for this category remaining popular in the world competition venue. Predicting a Thai rider will win the King’s cup is usually a safe bet- especially when one third of the competitors is a Thai national. This year, there were thirteen entries in Pro Sport GP with twelve competitors earning points. The class was undisputedly dominated by Supak Settura who swept all four motos of this division- not at all bad for a racer who also won the overall in Pro Am Runabout Stock. Teera Settura received three second place finishes with Ekchon Kingchansil pulling off a second place finish in Moto Three. Thanarwin Phakphokhai earned the overall third place on the podium. Sport Class racing in Thailand is still very fun and we look forward to seeing what new evolutions can take place to bring new products and new innovations to this category of PWC Racing. Whatever comes, Thai riders will be ready to lead the way.
Pro Ski gets the dominant coverage as is was the most watched class. Kevin Reiterer showed everyone at the event how a solid performance can result in an overall win without winning a single moto. We don’t want to give you the impression that he had this handed to him. Pro Ski was the most competitive category at the entire King’s cup with a full “A List” of racers who all wanted the PWC world’s most admired trophy and the top share of one of the most generous prize purses.
In full disclosure, the author of this recap got held up in a negotiation for World Finals, 2016, and missed the first moto of Pro Ski. Arriving on site and asking Chris MacClugage how he did, he replied “Shotaro made us look like amateurs.” This referred to a moto one win by Shotaro Kokubun, of Japan, which was, by all accounts, quite dominant. Kokubun was another rider coming off of a World Finals with something to prove- he was a near winner with very impressive heats and heartbreaking setbacks. The 2015 King’s Cup wasn’t going to yield a better outcome. Though consistenly in the top 4, for the rest of the event, Reiterer’s consistency was slightly better. Because Jeremy Poret received the second moto win, and then a third moto win to Steven Dauliach, points stayed within reach among several riders.
Everything came down to the final moto. Brock Austin pulled an insane hole shot on the final before getting pinched off, right after the merge, by a hard charging Chris MacClugage. An apparent slight error caused MacClugage to fall back into third and Brock led the event for another two laps before surrendering the lead to Kevin Reiterer. Mac climbed in to second shortly after with a massive charge that caused Brock to swing wide in the inside split. This was probably the most exciting heat of the entire event. Reiterer would go on to lead the heat until the last second when Chris MacClugage made an intense pass edging Reiterer out for the win by just a few inches. After clearing the checkered buoys, in an incredible display of sportsmanship, MacClugage leapt off his ski and hugged Reiterer in mid-air to congratulate Reiterer on a hard run and an overall Kings Cup win. Reiterer won with only a 13 point margin over Kokubun. Kokubun’s second was only three points head of Dauliach’s bronze finish. Dauliach was only seven points over Jeremy Poret’s fourth place. Poret, only one point ahead of MacClugage. This was a very amazing heat to watch with fifteen riders competing.
In the final King’s Cup category, Pro Freestyle, Lee Stone showed up to contest the event for his first time and took the overall win away from last year’s cup winner, Rashid Al Mulla. A few other competitors were successful at chipping away the Thai’s home field advantage. Beatriz Curtinal took the win home to Portugal for Pro Am Women’s Ski. Mizou Hadaka won Pro-Am Ski Open. Malaysia’s Terry Tee scored a win in Pro-Am Runabout Open, Cambodia’s Mustan Min won Novice Ski Stock, and Estonia’s Marteen Manni won Amateur Ski Limited. Big praise goes to the new on the block Korean Team: First In Novice Runabout with Sung Won Kim and a surprise win in Endurance with Youngmin Shin with another Korean rider, Jin Wong Kim, following in a close second. Thai riders dominated all other classes.
The closing ceremony was attended by a very special guest, Princess Ubol Ratana presented awards to podium finishers and attendees at the event. Rules of engaging the Royal Family prevented photography so you will have to take our word for it that Her Royal Highness truly added an extra layer of elegance and prestige to what was already an awesome ceremony. As a side note, the ban on cameras prevented us from getting footage of Kylie Ellmers giving a courtesy when she accepted her award from the Princess. The exchange only added to the environment of new and rarely seen moments that makes King’s Cup one of the most wonderful events in the world.
That is the note we would like to close on. King’s Cup is awesome. The organizers of the event do the very best job in promotion and bring new things to the event each year. As with any event of this magnitude, everything is a constant work in progress. The staff and managers do a good job of keeping things on track and the track and infrastructure are above the call for constructing a major event on the shores of a tourist town. The entire King’s Cup staff deserves our support and appreciation and where people have suggestions for improvement, it is best to be a positive force in being part of the change than it is to try and improve the sport through negativity. We look forward to the next 20 years of King’s Cup.
We hope you enjoy these pictures from the event:
A military guard presents the King's Cups
The five King's Cups sit below a picture of His Magesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej
The former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand discusses the opening ceremony with the current Deputy Mayor of Pattaya.
Traditional Thai entertainment was part of the opening ceremony
A repurposed Jet-Ski makes an excellent cooking station.
Team XBJ returns to the race scene.
Team Flamingo's turbocharges Spark leads Lap 1 of Moto Three
Danish Milk House, the yogurt drink sponsor, creates a nice booth resembling a farm house.
Gate 1 welcomes you to the event.
Thai Airways proudly sponsors the 2015 King's Cup
In the vendor area, a Spark, with a turbocharger package, boasts its accomplishments from the 2015 World Finals
Brock Austin's pit prepares for the Pro Ski GP race.
Yamaha sales girls announce information to the crowd in the vendor area.
The start of Pro Runabout GP, Moto 3 from the VIP floor
VIP guests watch Pro Runabout GP, Moto 3
Kevin Reiterer speeds through the course
Chris MacClugage celebrates a photo finish pass over Ski King's Cup Winner, Kevin Reiterer (photo courtesy of Bomb Photography)
Runabout King's Cup Winner, James Bushell, poses for photographs with his father Steve.