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The Ao Chalong Yacht Club, set at the edge of Ao Chalong along Phuket’s southeast coast, is a great spot to learn the ropes of sailing, enjoy some waterfront dining and mingle with some of the region’s most skilled and salty sailors.
While ‘yacht club’ usually conjures up an image of white linen-clad snobs swanning around with martinis and showing off their pricey boats, the scene at Ao Chalong Yacht Club (ACYC) is decidedly low-key and welcoming. It has a membership programme but non-members are welcome to come to dine, rent a kayak or try their hand at sailing.
In recent years the club has helped bring more youth and local people into the sport. One notable example is the success of the young Thai sailor, Patinyakorn Buranrom, who honed his skills in local regattas and went on to represent the ACYC in co-skippering a yacht in the 2013 TRANSPAC regatta, a 4,100-kilometre race across the Pacific from California to Hawaii. Completing the race in 12 days, his team came in third overall in their category.
The club has a small fleet of dinghy yachts available to rent, and it’s just launched a sailing school. Four courses are on offer: a play sail course for kids aged four to seven at 1,200 baht (non-member rate), a two-day junior sail course for children age seven and up at 5,200 baht, a fun sail training course at 1,500 baht, and two-day adult sailing course at 6,500 baht.
ACYC’s waterfront position with views across the bay also attracts many non-sailors coming to enjoy a meal or a drink. The club’s Spinnaker’s restaurant, serves Thai and Western dishes at prices mostly in the 150-250 baht range, and it puts on a Sunday roast every week. Non-members pay a fractionally higher price for food and drinks, and the WiFi is free.
The dining areas are open-air, with tables and the bar set under a sail-like canopy and some picnic tables on the lawn shaded by large parasols. On a sunny, breezy day, with the little dinghies circling around the calm bay waters, it’s a peaceful and scenic spot to wile away a lazy afternoon.
A family-oriented place, there’s a small sandbox and plenty of running-around space for kids. Every six months or so the club has an open day with a barbecue, bouncy castle and free sailing sessions for children.
The club also runs a Sunday sailing race series from August through November, and you might be able to find a spot on one of the crew if you turn up and ask around. Otherwise, experienced sailors keen to race could arrange to charter a yacht and join the race.
Ao Chalong Yacht Club is found next to the Ao Chalong Villa resort at the end of (the rather pot-holed) lane Soi Phon Chalong, about 1.5 kilometres north of Chalong Circle on Chaofa East Road.
By Lana Willocks
Last updated on 17th September, 2014.