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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Sailing Club Hua Hin

The story begins with Richard Vine, originally from Dover in the South East of England moving to Huahin Thailand 14 years ago.  

Previously he had owned a Golf Tour operation, taking UK golfers around the world, organising golf tournaments from Argentina to China and all points in between.  His career allowed him to visit 66 countries, it was this business that brought Richard to Thailand back in 1991.  Initially visiting Bangkok, Phuket at Chiang Mai but in 1997 change was on the horizon of venue and led him to visit Hua Hin.  Visiting every year since then, the decision came in 2005 that Richard would rather live in Hua Hin and commute a couple of times a year back to Europe than live in UK and come to Asia twice a year.

Richard then sold the golf tour business to his sales Director in 2014 and quickly got bored in retirement. Whereas most people look forward to playing more golf in retirement Richard had been playing 150 rounds a year for 30 years and for him, another round of golf felt like going back to the office.  

When Richard was at University he would often frequent Club Med in the long summer vacation to teach sailing.  He then did 18 months in Israel and the Caribbean, and although sailed on larger yachts a lot in the 80s he missed the fun of small dinghy sailing.  Next he found himself buying a Laser for himself and an Optimist for his son, sailing often together off the beach in Cha Am.  It then dawned on Richard that it was strange that there was no sailing club closer than Pattaya and Phuket.  “In 10 years I had never seen a sail off Hua Hin. The winds are good, the water is warm and the beaches ideal for launching boats.” stated Richard, which then led tp him looking for a piece of beach front, which is a needle in a haystack mission, but eventually he found an ideal little spot next to the Regent Hotel.  The owner didn’t want to sell but he liked the idea of a sailing club on his land and so the rent wasn’t extortionate and ever since the owner has been really supportive of the concept.

Richard used to sail Lasers at Club Med and loved them, and happily it is a large class of boat here in Thailand.  The other large fleet is Optimists for the under 15s.  Lasers are great from teaching as they are pretty sensitive so the student quickly understands the consequences of poor manoeuvres and the boats themselves are very low maintenance.  The club started with 5 Lasers and they have built the fleet every year until it has now reached 15.  Optimists wouldn’t have been Richard’s first choice for kids as they are a pain when they capsize as the water has to be bailed out with a bucket, but it’s the boat of choice for kids throughout Asia, with the club owning 13 of them.  In addition Richard bought a Laser Bahia which can take up to 6 kids and an instructor or 5 adults.  Finally they bought an old Hobie 16 Catamaran for those that like the speed.  For security they have a high powered RIB.

Anyone who sails can come and rent boats at very reasonable rates, Laser 1,200 and Opti 750 Baht.  They give lessons for free included in the boat rental but must be booked in advance.  They start a 4 day Zero to Solo course every Tuesday to Friday.  This costs 2500 Baht for kids and 3,000 Baht for adults.  2 hours per day from 10.30 to 12.30.  After the course the students should be able to sail alone in moderate conditions, equivalent to RYA Level 2.

They also have members who pay 1200 Baht per month or 12,000 Baht per annum (1,500 and 15,000 for families) and they get the rentals half price.  Definitely worth it if you are going to sail once a week.  The club is situated right on the beach halfway between Cha Am and Hua Hin next to the Regent Chalets Hotel.  They have a beautiful open deck under the shade of a huge spirit tree where we have an excellent restaurant and bar which always receives very high recommendations from TripAdvisor.

The club is going from strength to strength.  If your kids want to try out sailing then come and join their Saturday Club for kids, just 300 baht for 3 hrs of fun in boats on the beach.  If they like it they can join a course.  As they are the club within 300 kms you need to book if you want tuition.  Richard prides himself of being the ‘most accessible, friendly club in Thailand’.

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