by Event Media
The sailing scene in the Gulf of Thailand is experiencing a period of sustained growth as more boats choose to locate themselves in the Gulf to benefit from the stunning sailing grounds, and the international-standard sailing events attract boats from all corners of the globe.
A record one-design Platu fleet expected this year. Photo by Guy Nowell/ Top of the Gulf Regatta.
Home to Thailand's preeminent yacht club, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, and to many leading sailing events, the Gulf of Thailand is also home Ocean Marina – the host of Asia's largest annual multi-class competition, the Top of the Gulf Regatta.
Easy access to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport, with a capacity of 45 million visitors per year, contributes to Pattaya and surrounds' attractiveness to boat owners.
To support the region's growing popularity, infrastructure development is apace. No more so is this evident than at Ocean Marina, on Jomtien Beach.
Ocean Property, the parent company of Ocean Marina in Thailand, has confirmed an expansion of 100 new floating marina berths (13m and 20m), and an upgrade to 100 larger existing berths – the single largest expansion since the marina was built 18 years ago.
Scott Finsten, Harbour Master at Ocean Marina, said: 'The marina is not only a boost to Thailand’s boating industry, but also a boost to the local economy given the amount of jobs that will be created,' adding, 'We have dredged the marina to 3.5m so we can accommodate the deeper draft vessels that visit Thailand. The new marina completes the investment, to ensure we can cater for long-term demand.'
Playing a central role in the growth of marine leisure tourism in the Gulf of Thailand, is the Top of the Gulf Regatta (TOG Regatta), taking place for the eighth time this year.
Held fourth to 8th May, Thailand's TOG Regatta has, since the very beginning, been a strong supporter of marine leisure tourism and grass roots sailing in the Kingdom, funding and supporting Thai youth sailing, and providing competitive experience through the hosting the Thailand Optimist Nationals.
The TOG Regatta is unique amongst regattas in Thailand and Asia, in that it brings together keelboat and multihull racing with beach catamaran, dinghies and optimist competition on a large scale.
'The TOG Regatta really is like no other. We continue to support a large variety of classes, and give opportunity to youth sailors as well as provide top quality competition for sailors from around the world in the keelboat and multihull classes,' said William Gasson, Founder and Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee.
The TOG Regatta provides a truly multicultural experience. Attracting a large number of Thai sailors each year, TOG Regatta also attracts international participants across all classes, regularly including regional and world champions. Over 500 sailors from more than 30 nationalities competed in the 2011 Regatta.
'We expect over 70 boats on the keelboat and mutihull course this year, with an increase in interest from Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila, particularly the 40 foot keelboat range,' added Gasson.
Eight years old and the TOG Regatta continues to grow and develop. 2012 looks set to be a bumper year with a record fleet of one-design Platus including teams from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Thailand, competing for the Coronation Cup.
A first for this year, the NeilPryde Racing Series (racing the one-design RS:One sail board) will be incorporated as part of the Regatta and run off the host venue, Ocean Marina Yacht Club – the first time the Series has competed in Thailand.
Other classes for 2012 include: IRC 1, IRC 2, IRC 3, IRC 4 Cruising, Sports Boats, Platu (racing in the Coronation Cup), Ocean Multihulls, F18's, Open Beach Multihulls, Single-handed monohull dinghies, double-handed monohull dinghies and Optimist (racing in the Thailand National Optimist Championship).
Over 600 sailors are expected to descend on Jomtien Beach on the Gulf of Thailand, from fourth to 8th May, to enjoy some top quality sailing competition at the 2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta.